- In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke on the lack of financial accountability to prevent international white collar crimes, the challenges of climate change, Pakistan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of Islamophobia, the authoritarian tendencies of the Modi government, and the repression of Kashmiris.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today, Prime Minister Imran Khan covered a broad range of themes, including the lack of financial accountability to prevent international white collar crimes, the imposing challenges of climate change, Pakistan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of Islamophobia, the authoritarian tendencies of the Modi government (deeply influenced by the RSS), and the repression of Kashmiris.
Climate Change: On the issue of climate change, the Prime Minister stated that “Pakistan’s contribution to net carbon emissions is minimal, however Pakistan is one of the countries most affected by climate change”, raising concerns about the poverty-stricken and destitute masses which would face enormous risks as a result. The Prime Minister mentioned increased global temperatures, flooding in low-lying coastal regions, wildfires in California, among other examples of extreme weather conditions, to paint a picture of the consequences of climate change being felt on a global scale, stating that “we should be very worried, for our future generations”, and that “commitments made through the Paris Agreement must be fulfilled, including the commitment to mobilize $100 billion annually”.
Indian Aggression in Occupied Kashmir: Prime Minister Imran Khan, as reflective of his previous session in the General Assembly in September 2019, raised concerns about the blatant human rights abuses in Occupied Kashmir, stating that the Modi government is “obliterating the distinct Kashmiri identity”. Khan added that “While the Nazis’ hate was directed at the Jews, the RSS directs it at the Muslims, and to a lesser extent, Christians”, stating that the extremist ideology of Hindu supremacists and extremists rationalises that India is exclusively for Hindus, while others are not seen as equal citizens.
The Prime Minister mentioned that “the secularism of Gandhi and Nehru has been replaced by the dream of creating a Hindu Rashtra, by subjugating, even cleansing India’s 200 million Muslims and other minorities”, citing historical incidents of communal violence perpetrated by the RSS, including the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the massacre of 2000 Muslims in the Gujarat riots - adding that “this was [Gujarat Massacre] under the watch of Chief Minister Modi”. The Prime Minister touched upon the Modi government’s discriminatory policies against Muslims during the pandemic, stating that the government blamed the minority group for spreading the coronavirus, that they were denied medical treatment on countless occasions, and were subjected to target killings “with police complicity in Delhi”.
Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke about India’s attempt to annex Occupied Kashmir on August 5, stating that this was not only illegal and against the terms of the Geneva Conventions, but also that it was against the commitments India had made to the people of Kashmir and to the world. He added that “about 13,000 Kashmiri youth were incarcerated and thousands tortured”, and that “Indian occupation forces have used brute force including pellet guns, against peaceful protestors”. The Prime Minister mentioned that “the Kashmiri media and those daring to raise their voices are being systematically harassed through draconian laws”, drawing the attention of the international community to Indian occupation forces killing countless Kashmiris in fake encounters, and even refusing to return their bodies for a proper burial.
The Prime Minister praised the people of Kashmir, stating that “generation after generation of Kashmiris have laid down their lives to rid themselves of Indian occupation”, and that “they will never submit before the Indian state, as their struggle is indigenous”. He added that “the government of Pakistan is committed to stand by its Kashmiri brothers and sisters, in their legitimate struggle for self-determination”, warning the General Assembly that India was playing “a dangerous game” by attempting to militarily antagonise Pakistan, to divert the world’s attention, in a nuclearised environment. The Prime Minister stated that if the fascist RSS-led Indian government decides to commit any “misadventure” against Pakistan, it will be met by “a nation that is ready to fight till the end for its freedom” - adding that any hope of a durable peace in South Asia will never materialise until the issue of Occupied Kashmir is not resolved, as it could prove to be a potential “nuclear flashpoint”. He implored the international community to prosecute the Indian civil and military personnel for their “crimes against humanity” in Occupied Kashmir.
Indian diplomat Mijito Vinito, part of the Indian delegation at the United Nations, was seen to be walking out in protest during Prime Minister Imran Khan's speech.
Pakistan’s Smart Lockdown Policy: On the topic of his government’s policy in containing the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan, the Prime Minister credited the “smart lockdown” policy, which steered the country out of the pandemic, without pushing the poor and destitute further into the grip of poverty. Khan credited the government’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, which was the biggest cash transfer program in the country’s history, distributing 150 billion rupees to nearly 12 million households across the country, to provide financial support in the midst of the pandemic. The Prime Minister added that despite the country’s successful lockdown strategy, “we are not yet out of the woods, no country is out of the woods yet”, reminding the international community to exercise caution and restraint.
International Financial Accountability: Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke out against the flow of illicit financing from developing countries to developed countries, stating that these “stolen resources” can have an adverse impact on emerging economies, adding that “if this policy continues, it will accentuate the difference between the rich and the poor” and that developed countries lack the collective political will to “curb this criminal activity”. Khan added that “eventually, it will spark a bigger global crisis, a far bigger global crisis than the migration crisis poses”, stating that the developing world can not talk about human rights, when they provide protection and exile to money launderers and their ill-gotten wealth. The Prime Minister stated that there are robust international anti-money laundering mechanisms, calling upon the United Nations to “take the lead in efforts to build a global framework, to stem the illicit financial flows, and to ensure speedy repatriation of stolen wealth”. This wealth, the Prime Minister added, can be used to the benefit of the poor masses, by driving greater investment into human development.
Combating Islamophobia: The Prime Minister touched upon the issue of Islamophobia, stating that “Muslims continue to be targeted with impunity in many countries”.
For the concluding remarks in his address, Prime Minister Imran Khan called for a peaceful resolution of the occupation in Kashmir, urging India to roll-back its illegal and undemocratic annexation of Jammu & Kashmir, and to allow the people of Kashmir to be the masters of their own fate. He mentioned that “Pakistan has always called for a peaceful solution - to this end, India must rescind measures it has instituted since 5 August 2019, end its military siege, and other gross human rights violations”, adding that “and to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant U.N Security Council resolutions, and of course, the wishes of the people of Kashmir”.