"Shoddy Work": India's Former UN Envoy Rubbishes NYT's 'Vote For Pegasus' Story, Says Government Did Not Ask Him To Vote In Israel's Favour

by Swarajya Staff - Jan 30, 2022 12:56 PM +05:30 IST
"Shoddy Work": India's Former UN Envoy Rubbishes NYT's 'Vote For Pegasus' Story, Says Government Did Not Ask Him To Vote In Israel's FavourSyed Akbaruddin, when he was the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations
Snapshot
  • "I am a little bit amused at the quid pro quo that is being projected [in the New York Times story]," Akbaruddin said, adding, "I never consulted anybody. I never asked anybody and gave the direction [to vote in favour of Israel] because it was in consonance with our policy."

India's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin, has rubbished the New York Times' investigative story on Pegasus spyware published on Friday (28 January).

The now-widely-discredited story had alleged that India had voted in favour of Israel at the United Nations (UN) as part of a quid pro quo deal with the Jewish state for the purchase of the Pegasus spyware.

The New York Times had claimed that India bought the spyware as part of a $2 billion defence deal for a missile system during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Israel, the first by a serving prime minister of India.

The "countries had agreed on the sale of a package of sophisticated weapons and intelligence gear worth roughly $2 billion — with Pegasus and a missile system as the centerpieces. Months later, Netanyahu made a rare state visit to India. And in June 2019, India voted in support of Israel at the UN's Economic and Social Council to deny observer status to a Palestinian human rights organization, a first for the nation," the New York Times said in the "investigative" story.

Akbaruddin, who served as India's Permanent Representative to the UN when the country voted in favour of Israel on the said issue, has called the New York Times story "shoddy work".

"I am a little bit amused at the quid pro quo that is being projected [in the New York Times story]," Akbaruddin said, adding, "I never consulted anybody. I never asked anybody and gave the direction [to vote in favour of Israel] because it was in consonance with our policy."

"We voted on the right side of history," the former UN ambassador said.

Akbaruddin also clarified that no one from the government asked him to vote in favour of Israel at the UN on the said issue.

"Nobody contacted me from Delhi on this or after this. Neither did the Palestinians contact me because this was an NGO... I am a little surprised that The New York Times picks up a disparate vote on a small NGO and links it to a bigger story," the ambassador told NDTV.

Akbaruddin also explained why he decided to vote in favour of Israel.

"It was a rather mundane case of a Palestinian NGO... and initially everybody didn't have a problem with it. At that time, several countries came out and said they had found some linkages which were not highlighted by the NGO during the initial submission," Akbaruddin said.

"So, we had to take a call and we ourselves had many, many concerns about NGOs being infiltrated by terrorists. In fact, India had actually proposed a format to do the vetting. When this case came up, my colleague, who handles this committee, came to me and said, 'Ambassador, what do we do?' And without blinking, I said, 'Well, this is a terrorist concern. All they are asking is to delay this meeting so why should we have a problem at all?' I never consulted anybody and gave the directions because these were in consonance with our policy," he added.

Akbaruddin also questioned New York Times' seriousness on the story.

"If the New York Times was serious, they should have asked certainly me. I would have said the same thing I'm telling you because that's what there is," India's former UN ambassador said, adding, "The New York Times has done a shoddy work on this aspect."

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