NEW DELHI: Foreign minister S Jaishankar on Saturday strongly rebutted UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet’s criticism of Indian decisions on J&K and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying the body has been wrong before and is surprisingly blind to the role of cross-border terrorism.
“The UNHRC skirts around cross-border terrorism as if it has nothing to do with the country next door. Please understand where they are coming from, look at UNHRC’s record, how they handled the Kashmir issue in the past,” the minister said, pushing back at the UN body’s criticism of the abrogation of J&K’s special status and its plans to present itself as an amicus curiae in the Supreme Court in the CAA case.
Jaishankar’s remarks are in line with the Indian response to critical comments by various foreign organisations such as the European Union or committees of the US Congress that fail to mention the role of Pakistan in promoting and supporting terrorism in Kashmir while calling for restoration of “normalcy” in the newly formed Union territory.
In his speech at the ET Global Business Summit, the minister also defended the CAA, saying it is intended to reduce the number of stateless people, a measure that should be appreciated. “Everybody, when they look at citizenship, has a context and a criterion. Show me a country in the world which says everybody in the world is welcome. Nobody says that,” the minister said.
He pointed to the law’s specific purpose and said, “We have tried to reduce the number of stateless people through this legislation… We have done it in a way that we do not create a bigger problem for ourselves.” The law, opposed by Muslim groups, activists, opposition parties like Congress, Left and Trinamool, provides a path to Indian nationality for Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who fled in the face of religious persecution.
Looking at Indian foreign policy in the current context, Jaishankar told the assembled business elite that India’s rise being inextricably linked to the rise of Indian industry, the government would back them fully. Trying to dispel a notion that the BJP government is not business-friendly, he asserted, “Brand India has many facets for the world. And ‘business India’ is one of its most important. Your success is part of our success and as you go out in the world, count on us; we are there for you.”
Dwelling on the two key aspects that define modern global politics, he identified connectivity and technology as the drivers. “Connectivity today is the new great game. It shapes choices and builds linkages that could well determine the architecture of the order in making. India’s views on connectivity were made clear in 2017 and have been reiterated in greater detail since. In that sense, we have been the pioneering voice of this emerging conversation. In essence, the world in our view is best served by connectivity that is transparently debated, collaboratively envisaged, is commercially viable, financially sustainable, environmentally friendly and has local participation.”
Technology, he said, has strategic facets, which makes it essential to Indian foreign policy. “Technology has always been the driver of global politics and never more so than now… this has created its own issues of data protection and data security. But from the vantage point of foreign policy, there are some aspects that need greater deliberation as a national approach. The first is to appreciate that by its very nature, technologies are strategic, whether in its capability or in its consequences… How we fare in the domains of education, digitisation, skills and startups will determine our relevance and standing.”
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