New Delhi: Asserting that those involved in violence against the Rohingya community should be held accountable, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said India can help in the crisis by supporting Bangladesh in humanitarian assistance and using its influence with Myanmar to bring about reconciliation.
He also said that to keep a population in such a “discriminatory situation” is “an invitation for terrorist groups” to exploit the situation.
The top UN official said India “is an absolutely essential component” of a future multi-polar world and that the country can also play a role of an “honest broker” in some of the on-going conflicts in the world.
In response to a question on the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), proposed by India in 1996, he said the reason for the delay has been due to non-agreement on the definition of terrorism by countries.
After attacks by the Myanmar security forces, Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar that mostly resides in regions bordering Bangladesh, have fled the country.
According to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over seven lakh people have fled Myanmar, and majority of them reside in Bangladesh. India has over 40,000 refugees scattered across the country.
“I have never seen a community so discriminated in the world as Rohingyas,” Guterres, who arrived on Monday on his maiden visit to India, said in response to a question on the issue. He was delivering a lecture on ‘Global Challenges, Global Solutions’ here.
He said the Rohingya don’t have access to health and education and there was deep rooted feeling of racism against them within the Myanmarese society.
Guterres recalled his visit to the country as the High Commissioner for Refugees, during which he said the president of Myanmar asked him to resettle Rohingya in some other countries.
“To make them refugees is not my role. My role is to solve the problem of refugees. This shows how deeply rooted is the negative perception of the Rohingyas. This was intensified by some hate speech by some monks on social media. There are over one million people in Bangladesh. They were people burnt, raped. Even if there was a provocation, the reaction of the armed forces was brutal,” he alleged.
Guterres stressed on political reconciliation so that the Rohingya could go back to their country.
“What can India do? Support Bangladesh in helping these people because there is a huge humanitarian problem. Second, to pressure on Myanmar, the military in Myanmar for reconciliation and create conditions for these people to go back. These people will not go back in present circumstances,” he said.
“There should be accountability to those crimes,” he said on the treatment meted out to Rohingya adding “to keep a population in such a discriminatory situation is an invitation for terrorist groups” to exploit the situation.
In May, during the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Myanmar, India had offered to help in safe, speedy and sustainable return of Rohingya people. India has also been helping Bangladesh in providing humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees.
Responding to a question on why the CCIT could not be adopted, Guterres said there is no agreement on definition of terrorism and there were several complexities involved in it.
“The problem of definition of terrorism is (due to) several complexities. There are number of things which are complicated to have a common definition of terrorism. We have never managed to have it and we have never managed to have a true convention because of the definition,” he said.
Guterres said India has been in the frontline of supporting CCIT and the UN fully supports India in this regard.
To a question on the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on alleged human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, which was rejected by India, he said the reports are not endorsed by the secretary general.
“I don’t discuss reports about human rights commissioner. They have independence. The countries can agree or disagree with the reports. Their reports are not endorsed by the secretary general. The reports are done in a strictly independent way.”
He said as a principle, he does not make any comment on reports of both the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and High Commissioner for Refuges.
Responding to another question on communalism and religious fundamentalism, he said he “does not think India is in the worst situation” at all.
“I have always seen India as a country with extreme diversity. Of course, there are forms of extremism as any other parts of the world. I don’t think that is the major problem that you face,” he said.
Guterres said poverty and inequality are two major problems faced by the Indian society.
India can also play a role of an “honest broker” in some of the on-going conflicts in the world, he said, adding, “We need people and countries that all sides can respect. India does not have any specific agenda in many of these areas.”
The secretary general also noted that never in the recent times was multilateralism and rules based international order under so much of fire, citing the trade wars.
He said it is necessary to create factors of equilibrium and no country was better than India because of its dimensions, its technological and innovation capacity and of its Geo-strategic location. “India is an absolutely essential component of our future multi-polar world,” he said.
Peace talks with Taliban will happen soon: US
KABUL: The US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan said talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon” but if the insurgents continue to fight, then American forces would support Afghan forces in the war.
Talks between the Taliban and American officials have hit a roadblock after the hardline militants cancelled the fourth round of peace talks last week and rejected the involvement of the Afghan government in the dialogue.
The Taliban threatened to pull out of the peace process with the United States if they diverted from the issue of foreign force withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the insurgents to end the 17-year war.
The Taliban’s warning came hours after Zalmay Khalilzad landed in Afghanistan after meeting officials from India, China and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the peace process. “If the Taliban want to talk, we can talk. If they want to fight, we can fight,” Khalilzad told journalists in Kabul.
The White House has said President Donald Trump had not issued orders to the Pentagon to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but the White House has not denied reports that the United States plans to pull out some of the 14,000-strong force currently deployed.
Khalilzad said: “We hope that they [Taliban] want to make peace. But if they do not choose to come to the table, if they choose to continue fighting, the United States will stand with the Afghan people and the Afghan government and support them.”
Speaking about the next date for a meeting with the Taliban, he said: “We are hopeful it will happen very soon. That’s what we’re working towards.” “What we want is to see this conflict end through negotiation, to continue our partnership with Afghanistan and to ensure no terrorist threatens either of us,” Khalilzad told reporters.
UN approves mission to shore up Yemen truce
UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the deployment to Yemen of up to 75 monitors in a new mission to shore up a fragile ceasefire and oversee a pullback of forces from the flashpoint port of Hodeida.
The observer mission was agreed during talks last month in Sweden between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels and an advance team is already on the ground in the rebel-held city.
The unarmed monitors will be sent to Hodeida city and port as well as to the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa for an initial period of six months.
The resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “expeditiously” deploy the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA), led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.
Guterres has described the mission as a “nimble presence” that will report on violations in Hodeida, which for months was the front line in the war after pro-government forces launched an offensive to capture it in June.
Human Rights Watch warned of a tough road ahead and urged the council to keep the pressure on the warring sides.
“The countdown for exchanging prisoners is fast approaching, but the parties have missed deadlines, putting the prisoner swap in jeopardy,” said Louis Charbonneau, HRW’s UN director.
Lift travel ban on opposition leaders: Pak SC asks Imran Khan govt
Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday ordered the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift the travel ban imposed on opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and the Sindh Chief Minister, and asked the country’s anti-corruption body to probe their involvement in Rs 35 billion ‘fake accounts case’.
As many as 172 suspects were placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the recommendations of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the apex court.
A person cannot fly abroad if his name is placed on the ECL.
The Supreme Court, in a detailed judgement, ordered the government to remove the names of opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from the ECL.
It, however, referred the report and material collected by the JIT in the Rs 35 billion ‘fake accounts case’ to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Dawn news reported.
The JIT probe focused on “32 fake accounts” which were allegedly used to give massive financial benefits to former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and several others.
“Removing of the names will not prevent (the) NAB to probe and in case sufficient material is found connecting these individuals with cognisable offences, it will not be precluded from making an appropriate request to the federal government to place their names on (the) ECL again or take any appropriate action provided by law,” according to the judgement authored by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan.
The apex court in its earlier instructions asked the government to delete names of Bilawal and Shah from the ECL but the Cabinet waited for the detailed judgment.
After the judgement, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government will decide whether it should implement the court orders or file a review petition.
Justice Ahsan was part of the three-judge bench that last year took a suo-motu cognisance after it emerged that several big names were involved in money laundering through fake accounts.
Currently, a Karachi court is hearing the case against Zardari and Talpur for alleged money laundering.