Sushma Swaraj goes beyond Pakistan at UNGA

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s nearly 22-minute speech at the United Nations General Assembly was a forceful articulation of key challenges before humanity—terrorism, climate change, migration, nuclear proliferation and cybersecurity. Her address also included a well-directed counter to Pakistan and its charges against India, under the Right of Reply provision of the UN.

Swaraj’s articulation of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror was necessary and important especially given the high priority given by the UN to tackling terrorism. Her pivot to Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism calling for countries to come to a consensus on a globally accepted definition of terrorism was noteworthy. Given

India’s aspirations for a bigger role in the international community, it is time for New Delhi to broaden its world view. Over the years and successive administrations, Pakistan has come to dominate India’s UNGA address. In part, it is driven by the need to counter Pakistan’s efforts at the UN. That is unlikely to change. However, India needs to go beyond and use the opportunity accorded by the United Nations General Assembly speech to present its vision of the world and how a country sees and fulfills its role as a member of the international community. There is more to India’s world view and foreign policy than Pakistan. Swaraj spoke on critical challenges like climate change, migration. The UNGA is the forum for India to step up to shape the global dialogue. India needs to leverage the UNGA better. So, it is rather unfortunate that political parties have chosen to use Swaraj’s speech as grist for the partisan mill. Political partisanship needs to stop at the water’s edge. The media, too, needs to widen its attention beyond Islamabad.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.

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