A day after Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who left for the US Friday —will not discuss the issue of Article 370 at the United Nations, India’s Permanent Representative at the UN Syed Akbaruddin said India will not “stoop” and accused Pakistan of mainstreaming “hate speech”.
On how India plans to counter Pakistan, which is going to raise the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, Akbaruddin told The Indian Express, “Imran Khan will go down the same route as Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was here last time… They will stoop more. Our approach will be — if they stoop more, we soar. As Michelle Obama once said: ‘When they go low, we go high.’ They have mainstreamed terrorism, now they will mainstream hate speech.”
Akbaruddin and Indian ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla have been busy making preparations for the PM’s visit from September 21 to 27. Shringla flew to Houston on Wednesday to oversee preparations for the Howdy Modi event on September 22, which will be attended by the PM and US President Donald Trump. Modi reaches Houston on Saturday afternoon local time — Saturday late night India time.
The fact that India will not dwell on the Kashmir issue was evident from Modi’s statement before his departure: “In New York, I will participate in various major events in the UN… This year, the 74th session of the UN General Assembly has the theme ‘Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion’. There are many pressing challenges for the international community — a still fragile global economy, turbulence and tension in many parts of the world, growth and spread of terrorism, climate change and the… challenge of poverty. They require stronger global commitment…”
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Anish Goel, senior fellow at New America and a former White House official during the Obama administration, told The Indian Express, “I don’t expect Kashmir to be a significant issue during the General Assembly. There are just too many other issues commanding attention, such as the recent attack on Saudi Arabia… Khan will undoubtedly raise Kashmir again, but I don’t see how those dynamics have changed.”
Without mentioning Kashmir or Pakistan, Modi, ahead of his departure on Friday, outlined his agenda, “I am confident that my visit would present India as a vibrant land of opportunities, a reliable partner and a global leader, and will also help impart new energy to our relations with the US.”
About his address to Indian diaspora in Houston, he said, “I look forward to my meeting with…the Indian-American community.” He added, “I look forward to meeting President Trump in Houston and New York…We will review our bilateral relations…”