Prime Minister Imran Khan’s
On September 24, Prime Minister Imran Khan (PMIK), in his address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video link, made a strong pitch for the world to rally behind Afghanistan’s nascent Taliban government for preserving the progress made by the war-ravaged country over the past two decades, and preventing it from turning into a safe haven for terrorists. The address was also a sombre reminder of the many challenges faced by the international community in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, the resulting economic downturn and the climate emergency. Kashmir and the state-sponsored marginalisation of Muslims in India was also a significant talking point within the address.
Following is a brief on his address:
PMIK said India’s actions in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir amounted to “war crimes” and the “crimes against humanity” and regretted the world’s “selective” approach owing to corporate interests. “It is unfortunate, very unfortunate, that the world’s approach to violations of human rights lacks even-handedness, and even is selective,” the prime minister said. He added that India was violating the international human rights laws including the 4th Geneva Convention, and pointed that “geopolitical considerations and corporate interests” had compelled the major powers to overlook the transgressions of their “affiliated” countries.
He informed the UNGA that India had undertaken a series of illegal and unilateral measures in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, 2019, and that India had unleashed a reign of terror by an occupation force of 900,000, jailed senior Kashmiri leadership and imposed a clampdown on media and the internet. He said the abduction of 13,000 young Kashmiris, extra-judicial killing of hundreds of innocent Kashmiris in fake “encounters” and collective punishments by destroying entire neighbourhoods and villages, which he added had become a norm. He recalled that the most recent example of Indian barbarity was the forcible snatching of the mortal remains of the great Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani from his family, denying him a proper Islamic funeral and burial.
The PM called upon this General Assembly to demand that Syed Geelani’s mortal remains be allowed to be buried in the “cemetery of martyrs” with Islamic rites.
Warning of a looming humanitarian crisis, PMIK said a “destabilized, chaotic Afghanistan” could again emerge as a safe haven for international terrorists, and urged the world for measures to strengthen its government for the “people of Afghanistan.” He warned the world about a “huge humanitarian crisis” ahead which could have serious repercussions not just for the neighbours of Afghanistan but everywhere. “This is a critical time for Afghanistan … You cannot waste time. Help is needed there. Humanitarian assistance has to be given there immediately,” PMIK told the gathering of world leaders.
PMIK said the United States went wrong when it tried to force a military solution in Afghanistan. He said it was time that the international community ponders on the way ahead and said If Afghanistan was neglected, then according to the UN, half the people of Afghanistan were already vulnerable, and by next year almost 90% will plunge below the poverty line.
The world is facing triple challenge of Covid-19, economic calamities, and climate emergencies, attested PM Khan. “The virus does not discriminate between nations and peoples. Nor do the catastrophes imposed by uncertain weather patterns,” he said, noting that these common threats not only expose the fragility of the international system but also underscore “the oneness of humanity”.
Although Pakistan has been successful in containing the pandemic through “a calibrated strategy of “smart lockdowns,” the Prime Minister underscored the need for a “comprehensive strategy” that encompasses vaccine equity; financing for developing countries; and investment strategies to alleviate poverty, create jobs, build sustainable infrastructure and bridge the digital divide. “I propose that the Secretary-General convene an SDG summit in 2025 to review and accelerate implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.
Calling for collective efforts to fight the emerging threat of terrorism in the form of Islamophobia, PMIK urged a global dialogue to counter its rise while simultaneously promoting interfaith harmony. He underscored that “the worst and most pervasive form” of Islamophobia “now rules India” and said the “Hindutva ideology” being propagated by the current Government was unleashing “a reign of fear and violence” against India’s 200-million-strong Muslim community.
The Prime Minister maintained that “Pakistan desires peace with India, as with all its neighbours”, but sustainable peace is “contingent upon resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute”.
“The onus remains on India to create a conducive environment for meaningful and result-oriented engagement with Pakistan”, he said, which requires that Delhi reverse its unilateral and illegal measures instituted since 5 August 2019; ends its oppression and human rights violations against the people of Kashmir; and “reverses the demographic changes in the occupied territory.”
The writer is a member of staff.