In his approximately 30-minute speech at this year’s UN General Assembly on September 25, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan spent a significant amount of time hurling veiled barbs against “neighbours”, essentially referencing his country’s long-standing disputes with India. Other subjects that Khan mentioned in his speech included fiscal recovery from the impact of COVID-19, international money laundering and its impact on developing countries, climate change and Islamophobia.
After he had addressed these issues, Khan spent the remainder of his time talking about Kashmir and India’s abrogation of Article 370 last year. Here is a round-up of everything Khan mentioned with regard to Pakistan’s ongoing diplomatic disputes with India.
How did Imran Khan direct the narrative towards India?
The hint that Khan’s speech would take this direction and focus on Pakistan’s disputes with India came relatively early on when the leader touched upon his country’s foriegn policy. “A just and humane society where all government policies are directed at lifting our citizens out of poverty and creating a just and equitable dispensation. Thus our foreign policy aims to have peace with our neighbours and to settle disputes through dialogue,” Khan had said.
A few minutes later, Khan indicated that the UN was the only body that could help Pakistan achieve its goals in its neighbourhood. The leader then switched to indirectly referencing the abrogation of Article 370 by claiming that the “self-determination of peoples, the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states, non-interference in the internal affairs, international cooperation; all these ideals are being systematically eroded.” Before moving on to focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and how Pakistan has coped with infections, Khan said: “International agreements are being set aside….military occupation, illegal annexations are suppressing the rights of human beings to self-determination.”
What did Khan say about Islamophobia?
Khan said the COVID-19 pandemic has “fanned nationalism” and “has given rise to racial and religious hatred and violence” against minorities and has accentuated “Islamophobia”. Khan pointed to French news publication Charlie Hebdo for republishing “blasphemous sketches”, and said wilful provocations and incitement to hate and violence” must be “outlawed”.
Although the leader said that Muslims were being “targeted with impunity” in several countries and their shrines destroyed, he refrained from calling out China for its persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
What did Imran Khan say about India?
Imran Khan singled out India in his UNGA speech by claiming that it was the only “one country” that “state sponsors Islamophobia”, rooted in “RSS ideology”. Khan went on to discuss the origins of the RSS in significant detail, claiming that the organisation was “inspired by the Nazis” and their “concepts of racial purity and supremacy”. “While the Nazis hate was directed at the Jews, the RSS directs it towards the Muslims and to a lesser extent towards the Christians,” Khan said.
Citing the examples of the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the burning of the Samjhota Express train, the RSS, Khan said, believes that India is “exclusive for Hindus and others are not equal citizens” and had engaged in the “cleansing” of “200 million Muslims and other minorities”.
Khan also mentioned the NRC and CAA, particularly its impact in Assam, where “two million Muslims” were facing being stripped of their citizenship. “There are reports of large concentration camps being filled with by Muslim Indian citizens,” Khan said (sic).
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Khan briefly mentioned that Muslims were being “falsely blamed, vilified and victimised” for the spread of COVID-19 in reference to the Tablighi Jamaat and cow vigilantes. In what seems like a reference to the CAA and NRC, Khan called “mass registrations” a “precursor to genocide” and equated it with Germany in 1935 during the implementation of the Nuremberg Laws and the implementation of Myanmar’s citizenship laws in 1982. Khan added that “Hindutva ideology…does not augur well for the future of India”.
Last in its attacks against India was the issue of Kashmir, particularly the abrogation of Article 370. Khan accused India of “upping the military ante” against Pakistan to divert attention from Jammu and Kashmir. Khan claimed that Islamabad had “exercised maximum restraint” in circumstances where India had purportedly engaged in “provocations and ceasefire violations” along the Line of Control and Working Boundary.
Khan stated that Islamabad would fight for “its freedom to the end” if India’s “fascist totalitarian RSS-led government” attempted to “aggress” Pakistan. Khan ended his statements on Kashmir by saying that there would be no “peace and stability” in South Asia till the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir was resolved “on the basis of international legitimacy”.
Pointing to the United Nations Security Council resolution 1264 in 1999 where the international body intervened in East Timor for the people to vote for independence from Indonesia, Khan called for similar resolutions to be enacted in Jammu and Kashmir. “India must rescind the measures it has instituted since 5 August 2019,” Khan said.
What else did Khan say?
Khan closed his speech referring to the US-Taliban Peace Agreement in February 2020 and the potential path forward for Afghanistan and its impact on Pakistan due to their shared borders. Khan also called out Israel’s annexations of the West Bank and its impact on the lives of the Palestinian people, including those in Gaza. Khan also said that Islamabad would continue to support the two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of the independent state of Palestine.
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