The UNGA proved that Pakistan and India can never rise above name-calling

Published: September 25, 2017

This is the reality of Indians and Pakistanis and for that matter most South Asians, beyond the barbwires and borders.

This year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) did not bode well for the South Asian community. Maleeha Lodhi and Sushma Swaraj, two bright South Asian women who are fortunately educated and able, were unable to make a difference with their presence.

Ambassador Lodhi, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative, stated that India is the “mother of terrorism” at the UNGA. Furthermore, she stated that Pakistan is open to starting a dialogue with India, and implementing all resolutions. However, she also went on to claim,

“India has considerable experience in the state sponsorship of terrorism in our region.”

Although Ambassador Lodhi claims that Pakistan is ready for a resolution, when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, her harsh remarks do not seem to convey that message.

On the other side, we have Swaraj, the Indian external affairs minister. She claimed that Pakistan is “the pre-eminent export factory for terror”, while India was thriving. Her remarks proved that no one, on any side of the border is ready to start discussing the fate of Kashmir rationally. These are just two examples from this year’s UNGA, but this is not something out of the ordinary.

Over the past 70 years, we have made no progress at the UNGA. Every year, it is another round of name-calling and finger pointing with phrases such as “the big evil”, “root of all problems”, and “exporter of problems”. So much so, that our reaction to these phrases has now been internalised. In terms of diplomacy, we have remained rigid as well.

Moreover, witnessing women of such high calibre continuing this name-calling with the same rhetoric points to the notion that for the next 70 years, this phenomenon will remain. Warring with words is not the answer to our persisting problems and I wish our representatives would understand this, sooner than late.

Lodhi and Swaraj need to realise that Pakistan is a factory of unemployed graduates, and India is mother to millions of street beggars, who are mostly children. Pakistan and India combined, are parents to a population that could be the world’s’ most illiterate and backward population.

After 70 years, both these women are ignoring our countries’ major problems – poverty, disease, unhygienic living conditions, child labour, bonded labour and more – problems that both countries are severely affected by.

I hope a day will come when we take responsibility of our own issues and offer to lend a hand to each other in tackling our overlapping humanitarian issues. If we implement universal basic human rights in our countries, from the north to the south, our population will remain stringent against exploitation from foreign insurgents. Instead of working towards this implementation, we take the easy way out and blame each other.

Where do we stand as a nation when our citizens are ready, on any given notice, to emigrate and settle in foreign lands? When our fellow citizens are deprived of even basic clothing? Where immigration is the only option left for our bright youth, unable to achieve anything at home?

Furthermore, our youth is unable to pursue opportunities at home, and thus they are never given the chance to become true leaders.

The fact of the matter is that most citizens of the region are so desperate that they are even willing to join refugee convoys in Europe – just to get away from the dire state of affairs. Ultimately, our citizens are not happy and this is a reason enough to divert all attention in assuring them that the relation between a state and its citizen is parallel to that of a mother and a child. We have, on a whole, accepted our inferior status in the international system by virtue of our passports.

Both our nations and institutions are seemingly indifferent to the humanitarian loss and human rights violations that occur every day in India and Pakistan. They continue to preach honour and pride, yet they ignore the reality of our situations. The fuel for this rivalry is the future of numerous unborn children, educated youth and potential scientists or doctors who are wasted due to the lack of education and healthcare on both sides.

No rational country on this planet would fight for a territory, only to add a billion humans to its population, where the existing population is deprived of clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

It has come to the point where all we hear is that Indians are evil, and all they hear is Pakistanis are evil.

I beg to ask, what is new?

Both our security forces blame the other – no one questions what the reason behind the security problem is. Why do our forces not avert these incidents? Has our hatred grown so much that all we long for is the suffering of the other?

As a student in Europe, I worked with fellow students from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, all of whom were bright young individuals with the same dream of settling in Europe. Some left their countries because of unemployment, some due to discrimination, others because of terrorism – the list goes on and on. We worked day and night, engineers and other professionals, in kebab and burger shops, facing endless humiliation and racism to ensure that our children are not born inferior. This is the reality of Indians and Pakistanis and for that matter most South Asians, beyond the barbwires and borders.

I hope our leaders and bright women realise the importance of preaching humanity, rather than the narrative of death and destruction. At the end of the day, it is still a human life that is lost – regardless of which side of the border they come from – but the way our countries keep fighting, death just becomes another number. If we start respecting every human death, we will eventually, pave the path to peace over the next 70 years.

We can only imagine a world where women supported other women, but sadly, that is not the way it works. For the future, I hope Ambassador Lodhi and Foreign Minister Swaraj speak out for both our populations. I hope they speak out in the name of honour for the sake of our people. The atrocities in Kashmir still remain as they were when I was born. I have grown up watching videos of suffering and listening to stories of the mayhem in Kashmir. I beg to remind you that we all have failed as humans. Now is the time to rise up. These women should realise that every word they say defines the lives of numerous people who do not have voices – people who continue to suffer until someone speaks up for them.

Qamber Awan

Qamber Awan

The author a social critic and a contributor of Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • wb

    I was personally offended by Sushma’s speech, despite being Indian. When a mosquito bites you, you swat it off and ignore it until it again comes and sits on you. Doesn’t matter 100 1000 times. But to make a big issue of a mosquito was saddening. Sushma degraded herself by talking about Pakistan so much.

    Also, the IIT, IIM, Satellites to Mars talk is more suitable for ET comment section or facebook or youtube. For a foreign minister of the second biggest population in the world to make these silly comments at the highest stage, it was cringe-worthy. It embarrassed me.

    I thought of committing suicide out of embarrassment. But then lo and behold the Pak envoy to UN. Maleeha Lodi makes a bigger joke of herself than Sushma did of herself.

    Maleeha Lodi proved that even the most educated, distinguished Pakistanis are even incapable of doing google search properly. This woman brandishes an old picture of a Palestinian deservingly getting her face riddled as a Kashmiri.


  • Suchi Baat

    Let us reconcile with reality for a bit. As long as BJP is in power, it will further its anti-muslim anti-Pakistan akhund bharat agenda and this saga will continue.. very unfortunately. Seeing peace to flourish in this time is high wishful.Recommend

  • Faisal

    It was a bad show. India always does that to Pakistan and this time when Pakistan tried to get even, it only got uglier.Recommend

  • Srinivasulu Mekala

    The photograph purported to be that of a Kashmiri girl, brandished by Ms Maleeha Lodhi was actually a photograph of Rawya abu Jom’a, a girl from Palestine. The picture was taken on 22 July 2014 by an American photographer Heidi Levine. This photograph was published by New York Times on 24 March 2015 under the caption ‘Conflict, Courage and Healing in Gaza’.Recommend


    First of all the speech of sushma Swaraj was not Pakistan centric..Secondly ignoring country for petty issues is pakistan’s way not india’s.wsoe are equally focusing in our country so dont need others advice ,it is only Pakistan who has to think that if they have so many issues in there own home so why they rant KASHMIR always which is not even there part.Recommend

  • ajit

    A good pragmatic article. In order for both nations to tackle internal problems rather than meaningless squabbles in UNGA, important to appreciate ground realities: 1. Pakistan and India holds part of Kashmir 2. There is NO WAY any country will give a mm of their land through military, diplomatic or UN GA means 3. Only way is to leave Kashmir totally out of equation and co-operate on all other pressing development issues (See example of India-China or China-Taiwan in this regard). If we do not agree to these realities, we will find similar meaningless rhetoric and one up-manship in UNGA in 2250 AD also!! I am a bit of skeptic and feel 200 yrs fast forward (after millions of deaths both sides) India and Pak will still be squabbling on Kashmir with the same status-quo position on ground!Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    What is in name? Pakistan is creation of Anglos so that India is boxed in. So far Anglos and their Arab friends have given $500 Billion in cash and kind. Once Anglos stop supporting then China will stop as wellRecommend

  • Gus, DC USA

    If Pakistan dreams of snatching Kashmir from India and use it’s terror proxies nothing will happenRecommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Political statements and doing some thing positive on grounds on the Issues between Pakistan & India in fact both Parties used Kashmir issue as a issue not to solve and not serious to resolve Kashmir issueRecommend

  • addo

    Article good except on Kashmir. Kashmir is none of pakistan failed state’s business, Kashmir was and forever will be part of India. India has problems but is WAY ahead of Pakistan in every way. People don’t march in our schools and machine gun.Recommend

  • Komal S

    We have institutions in place in India to take care of Kashmiri interest. Do not need Pakistan to lecture us on that. A country whose minority population has come close to zero from early teens should not lecture another country about taking care of its minorities. India understands the risk of dragging Pakistan through the mud, but the alternative did not solve our problems. All the Pakistanis who love Congress and vice versa did not solve Kashmir problem for last 70 years. Most of us in India support this belligerence in the foreign policy with Pakistan.Recommend

  • shaan

    Beggar countries musings?Recommend

  • Vectra

    if you are personally offended despite being India then move out of India.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    UN has lost its utility. Security council is pure joke. I India needs to come out of UN. India needs to compete with China in creating manufacturing jobs, esp in high-tech such as VLSI chips. UN talks are pure entertainment and industrious don’t indulge in it. Recommend

  • Suchi Baat

    Look who is talking. Yes. You Indians send your proxies which are TTP people with machine guns to kill our students. Remember APS School and BK University. And Kashmir is every one’s business. It was UN calling for a fair and free plebiscite in kashmir and you deny them that right.Recommend

  • Suchi Baat

    Can you just shed light why Kashmiris are fighting for independence when you have a ministry to look after their interest ? We do not you Indians to tell us what to do when it comes to raising our voice against the atrocities you are committing in held Kashmir.Recommend

  • Suchi Baat

    The solution to all this is India should be broken in pieces and its hegemonic mind set brought to some senses will peace to the region.Recommend

  • Humza

    I think the point remains. The picture shows an unarmed civilian protester being injured. That’s what matters and this is what goes on daily in Indian occupied Kashmir because India refuses to let people there express themselves or allow a United Nations mandated referendum to take place. This is the real message and it resonated well. After years of taking nonsense from a Pakistan obsessed India, it is great that now Pakistan is exposing India for the fraud it is.Recommend

  • Humza

    You can’t even use your name since you have no culture. The hybrid culture you see over South Asia is the gift of the 1000 years before your British saviors came. Recommend

  • abid

    very good articleRecommend

  • Pakistani from heart and soul

    Indians are obsessed with Pakistan. They say that they dun care about Pakistan but their political speeches, talk shows, movies, drams, discussions tells otherwise. Either they are scared or nothing better to do with their lives and country.Recommend

  • Pakistani from heart and soul

    Typical Indian mentality. Trying to mix up things and run away from real issues like the killing of Kashmirs, protest, casting of less than 10% votes in Kashmir in last elections, using pellet guns, using human shields by coward army.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    You are getting your geography wrong. There are parts of Indonesia south of equator, that is South Asia. Indian Subcontinent (includes Tibet) is middle Asia.

    I and most of my Muslim relatives and friends will revert back to their native faith and spirituality in a zippy. The name is originally a Jewish one. Natives of India gave to the world Number System, including Zero & decimal system, grammar of languages, Calculus, BeejGanit (you call it Algebra because some Arabic/Persian guy translated Indian books), Chemistry, Metallurgy, Astronomy, Ayurveda (includes surgery, traditional Chinese Medicine is formalized Ayurveda), Textiles, Civil Engg for towns, home construction, Musicology (all ragas & talas came from temple deity worship), dance, Yog, martial arts such as Karate (Kar means hand). When I entered Bell Labs fundamental research in Murray Hill in 1986, wondered why there are no Arabs or even Greeks here, why there are mote than 30% Indians (read Hindu) here. Google on Ramanujam, Technology of Spirituality….Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The two ladies might be capable of many talents but diplomacy is definitely not their baby. They deserve a red card from their countries and need not appear in front of the men dominated UN general assembly.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Please recall the recent BRICS statement listing some Pakistani based Good Taliban terrorist groups threatening the region!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    That UN “fair and free plebiscite” you write about could only be held after Pakistan removed all its armed forces from Kashmir per terms of agreement!
    And WHEN did Pakistan comply with that plebiscite pre-condition??Recommend

  • ajit

    if independence movements became like this – the world will have 20,000 countries not 200!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Gus, you had to add DC and USA to your moniker, to
    give validity to your comment. Lack of confidence.
    The Kashmiris are doing it themselves. Progressively.
    Bharati Occupied Kashmir is like Hindustan’s Vietnam.
    Slowly but surely, sapping away Hindustan’s strength.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Bharat has nearly a million plus army soldiers, LEA’s, police
    and para military forces in Hindustani Occupied Kashmir.
    Like 5 soldiers, behind every bush.
    And you are still afraid of 50,000 Pak soldiers along the whole
    Line of Control?Recommend

  • wb

    Patwari, we were afraid before 1948. But after 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999, we consider you nothing

  • Patwari

    Banarsi Brahmini hope you are doing well in your new village,
    You can always move to Madras or Coimbatore. Brush up
    on your Tamil, Telugu, or Malayalam. Any will do. And eating
    off banana leaves is advised. Blend in with your brethren.
    Diwali is just around the corner. Hope your rice harvest is in.Recommend

  • Humza

    The truth hurts doesn’t it Santokh Sharma or if you prefer to use your internet name Salim Alvi ! Who are you fooling? Be the Indian you are and be proud buy spare me the homily about reversion or ghar wapsi – if anything you should should be thankful that you were able to retain your Indian and Hindu identity despite 1000 years of Muslim rule over South Asia before the British came and set you free. Just accept history, move on and be content to have your home and British created capital of New Dehli. Instead you have to fight your own demon of 1000 years of Muslim rule over South Asia with your hatred of Pakistan and Muslim rule at every chance on this site. It’s pitiful and we all see it. If you were really so happy about all your supposed Indian scientific contributions, you would not waste your time on a Pakistani blog posting nonsense. Only when you learn to accept the past and move on, can you truly be free in the country the British created for you – India.Recommend

  • wb

    Patwari, how can I do well? There’s no single toilet in my new village.

    But Patwari, you can still get a medical visa to india. You won’t get a toilet. But you’ll get the best of doctors.Recommend

  • wb

    Humza, he’s Indian. I’m Indian. You are Indian. Your fathers, your grandfathers are all Indians. But you are a failed state only because you embraced regressive Arab culture.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    About who created Dilli:. Hastinapur & Indraprastha which is called currently Delhi was architected by progeny of Mayan. Enjoy celebration

  • KlingOn2K

    Pakistan would have been better off not saying anything in the UNGA. The pellet-photo disaster could have at least been avoided. That did more damage to Pakistan’s reputation than anything before.Recommend

  • KlingOn2K

    Exactly what Indian Kashmiris are telling Pakistan. Please don’t “help” us anymore. We can handle our problems better ourselves.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    India has never committed any atrocities in Kashmir.Recommend

  • Gus, DC USA

    I am US citizen and from DC okay.. there is no lack of confidence on truth. Pakistan is facing huge internal problem in FATA , Sindh and Baluchistan.Recommend