Calling out Pakistan’s attempts to disrupt the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), India has warned that it will slide to irrelevance and be shut out of global decision-making if attempts were made to divide it by venting bilateral grievances.
“If we take up issues that divide rather than unite us, reducing our movement to a platform for venting bilateral grievances or for embarrassing fellow Members, we will soon become a weak and irrelevant entity, with no say at all in global decision making,” India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan told the virtual Ministerial Meeting of the NAM on Friday.
Theme of the meeting commemorating the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the movement’s founding principles was “More Relevant, United and Effective NAM against Emerging Global Challenges, including Covid-19”, but Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi raised the Kashmir issue.
Muraleedharan did not mention Quereshi or Pakistan by name but it was clear to whom his message against divisiveness and raising of irrelevant issues was directed.
“Individual members must stop and think before raising issues that are not on the agenda and which find no resonance in the wider membership. NAM never was and never can be a platform for pursuits aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of a State by another State.”
The second of the 10 founding principles of NAM is “respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations”, he added.
On the meeting’s pressing issue of dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and rebuilding the world in its destructive wake, he said: “NAM’s unique tradition of promoting South-South cooperation can provide a way out as societies look to rebuild and regenerate in the wake of this crisis.”
He recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance at the UN General Assembly last month that “India’s immense vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting the crisis”.
But the world was also facing the threat of terrorism and other imminent dangers, Muraleedharan said.
Terrorism and its “enablers continue to spread their tentacles unabated”, he said in a message also directed against Islamabad.
Listing the other threats to the world, he said: “Misinformation and fake news are wreaking havoc on social cohesion and collective security. Climate change has become an existential threat, especially to the most vulnerable SIDS (Small Island Developing States) countries. Humanitarian emergencies are straining capacities. Cybersecurity threats and the uneven impact of frontier technologies are causing turbulence.
“NAM has the potential to take the lead in addressing the primary issues of our times that demand global cooperation.”
Friday’s meeting commemorated the adoption in 1955 of NAM’s founding principles known as the Bandung Declaration.
It was named for the place in Indonesia where leaders of 29 countries adopted it at a meeting organised at the initiative of India’s former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Suharto of Indonesia.
Muraleedharan said: “Over the decades, these core principles have served as anchors in the political and socio-economic journeys of many of our nations. These principles have helped us overcome immense challenges such as colonialism and apartheid, and are today reflected in our steadfast support to the cause of Palestine.”
While Pakistan, like China, was present at the Bandung meeting, it spurned non-alignment by entering into military alliances with the US and other countries, and joined NAM only in 1979.
In his speech to the Friday meeting, Qureshi “expressed concern” at what he said was the denial of the right to self-determination under UN Security Council resolutions.
However, the principal Security Council resolution on the subject demands that Pakistan withdraw its forces and people from all of Kashmir.
Qureshi also asserted that the “struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is being brutally suppressed”.