UNITED NATIONS - VOA's Margaret Besheer spoke with Indian U.N. Ambassador Syed Akbarrudin.
Q: on Kashmir issue, have you met with the Secretary-General already or do you have plans to meet with him?
SA: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to connect with your views and listeners in so many different languages. That said, the issue that you are referring to is perceived by us largely as a counter-terrorism issue. And on counter-terrorism, there is a U.N. approach towards handling these matters, so we are in touch with those who handle these matters and try and work out a norm that will ensure that such things are prevented.
Q: I wonder then if reports I’ve read in the Indian media are correct that Britain and France want to put the leader of JeM on the global terrorist list. Is that something India is working on through the UN with support from the P5 or something?
SA: Yes, there are many, many options on the table. But each of these options is aimed at trying to ensure that entities and individuals who need to be proscribed are put on a list and states who have a responsibility to ensure that they abide by their commitments not to provide sanctuaries and safe havens to such individuals and entities, abide by those commitments, rather than look the other way when lives are lost and there is disruption. As you know, in our region in the last one week, three of our neighbors have indicated that they have problems emanating from one state in our region which has provided sanctuaries. It doesn’t happen very often that one state is indicated as a problem for several of its neighbors. And unfortunately, that’s been the case here. We will therefore, work in unison with many countries in the [UN] Security Council and beyond it to try to and address this issue.
Q: Beyond addressing potential terrorists on the list, what would you like to see from the UN to help ease the situation? Would you like to see them investigate the attack? And have you met with the Secretary-General?:
SA: As I’ve said, the issue is a counter-terrorism issue. We would have hoped the preventative aspects were dealt with, unfortunately that hasn’t happened. We have seen coffins go all across India and there is a sense of deep disquiet and a sense of injury and hurt among large sections of the Indian population. That has resonated with very many people outside India. There has been an outpouring of condemnation for that event across the globe. Our idea is to try and use that concern and build on a narrative that ensures that the U.N. is willing to take action -- swift action -- and hold states accountable if they are not able to control terrorists operating with impunity from their territory.
Q: When you say UN take action and hold states accountable, do you mean the UN secretariat or the UN Security Council? Because that sounds to me like you are saying you want Security Council sanctions.
SA: We are far from that stage. But what we’d like is step one: a clear condemnation from everybody against such terrorist acts. Number 2: we would like a listing which ensures the leaders of such entities are also listed and proscribed. Number 3, we would like all states to abide by their commitments which are enshrined in several Security Council resolutions, and otherwise to abide by what they have professedly said on several occasions. If these acts are taken in a sequential manner we will see that there will be a perceptible decline in such activities -- certainly in our neighborhood. If that happens, it opens up opportunities for further progress on this issue. But that’s the key, the three elements I pointed out. And these are always in the domain of member states.
Q: The Secretary-General issued a second statement Wednesday strongly condemning the Kashmir attack. He urged both the governments of India and Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint to prevent further deterioration. We’ve heard strong rhetoric from your government threatening a ‘jaw breaking response’ over the attack. What does the Indian government think is the appropriate response for what happened?
SA: So when coffins go back home these are extremely depressing situations. In democracies, there is bound to be a revulsion of security personnel being killed in this manner. Also, this is new for us in terms of the methodology used. Obviously, people will react in many different ways. I have listed to you what we want from the international community. Those are specific; those are clear, and those are we hope tangible enough for people to respond to.
Q: Is a military response from India not likely?
SA: Again, I don’t know where you have got this specific option that you are listing out. Look at the statements we have made, yes, we have said we will respond. We will respond to what has been an affront on the dignity of our security personnel. But we have listed things that we hope will be taken into account. We are awaiting those responses. We are a responsible state, it is not our tradition to respond in haste. But respond we certainly will, in a manner and in the way that we decide to respond, taking into account how the others have responded to some of our key requests.
Q: Has Prime Minister Modi spoken with Prime Minister Khan in wake of the attack?
SA: India and Pakistan have a huge diplomatic establishments in each other’s capitals, so being in touch is not a problem. We understand each other’s language very well, we understand what each other is trying to articulate. Our view has always been for substantive dialogue. We need to stop terror. Stop terror to start talks. We are looking for that trigger, where terror is stopped to move on forward.
Q: You’ve articulated what you want the international community to do in terms of the three steps, but what specifically, other than stopping terrorism, what do you want to see from Pakistan related to the incident? An investigation?
SA: What we want is for Pakistan to abide by its commitments. And those commitments are that the territory of Pakistan will not be used for terrorist activities. Now, look at the last incident that we were talking about in Pulwama. This has been claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Jaish-e-Mohammed is a proscribed entity listed by the U.N. as based in Pakistan. It is quite clear that if they claim it – and nobody has denied it since then – that you need to act against them. So we would like to see tangible action against an entity which is proscribed the U.N., which is based in Pakistan, which is claiming that it has attacked and killed 40 Indian security personnel.