Malik M Ashraf
PRIME Minister Imran Khan’s address to the UN General Assembly undoubtedly was a conscience rattling discourse in regards to the apathy shown by the world community to the anti-Muslim policies pursued by BJP regime in India, its illegal action in the India-occupied Kashmir and the likely implications for peace and stability in South Asia; cold shoulder response to the rise of Islamophobia in the western countries which threatened inter-faith harmony and acquiescence of the major countries to transfer of ill-gotten money from the developing countries to their jurisdictions through money laundering.
Like his address to the UN General Assembly last year, he forcefully reminded the civilized world of their moral and legal obligations to the people of Kashmir in regards to facilitating the exercise of their right to self-determination. He was right to pin-point that Kashmir was admittedly a nuclear flash point and the Indian actions to end special status of the state, its annexation to the Indian Union and the promulgation of new domicile law to change demographic realities were a brazen violation of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, international law as well as the fourth Geneva Convention.
Recounting the anti-Muslim legislative steps taken by the Modi Government in India, the massacre of Muslims in Delhi during the protest rallies against Citizenship Amendment Act under the approving nod of the Indian police, the massacre carried out in Gujarat when Modi was Chief Minister of the State, he rightly likened the RSS ideology to the supremacist ideology of Hitler which had catastrophic consequences. The reality is that BJP government in India is not only trying to create a Hindu State to the exclusion of Muslims and other minorities within its boundaries but it has also spread the tentacles of its hate philosophy to India-occupied Kashmir. The people of IIOJ&K are being persecuted with impunity.
To divert the attention of the world from the situation in the State India is also committing violations of the ceasefire agreement on a daily basis and according to reliable sources during this year it has committed more than two thousand violations targeting civilian habitat. It also has adopted a belligerent posture against Pakistan as is evident by her aerial attack last year on an imagined terrorist camp at Balakot which cost her two downed planes and capture of a pilot. It could have easily escalated into a full-fledged war between the two nuclear States with horrible consequences. But Pakistan saved the situation by showing restraint and getting the situation defused with the help of the friendly countries. Looking at the Indian track record, the Prime Minister was right on money to warn the world community and the UN about the lurking dangers to peace and security in the region which as pointed out by him could only be averted through implementation of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. He did the right thing to warn India that any indiscretion and aggressive act by her would have a matching response from Pakistan
Nonetheless, it is a matter of great satisfaction that owing to the diplomatic offensive launched by the PTI government, India has failed to sell her narrative in regards to the situation in IIOJ&K being her internal matter. Another positive result of this effort has been that the UNSC after nearly 50 years discussed the issue thrice. Though the UN and the international community has not taken any tangible steps to ensure the implementation of the UNSC resolutions or putting pressure on India to stop extra-judicial killings in IIOJ&K but Kashmir has again emerged as a burning issue of the time. The international media has also played a sterling role in exposing human rights abuses in IIOJ&K after 5 August as well as highlighting the Kashmir issue in its true perspective.
Money laundering is also an issue of global concern because of its adverse implications. As rightly pointed out by the Prime Minister this phenomenon was being employed for transfer of ill-gotten money from the poor countries to the rich countries. It is happening notwithstanding the fact that there are several international protocols to prevent it. The reality is that the countries where this money is going are encouraging it through non-implementation of the anti-money laundering regimes. Many multinational banks are also involved in this scam. The permeating situation encourages the leaders and business community of the third world countries to stash their ill-gotten money in the foreign banks, which actually contributes to the economic development of those countries and depletes the resources available to the poor countries which are vitally needed for their socio-economic development. Therefore his demand for repatriation of this looted money to the countries from where it has been purloined has a considerable merit. He has in fact thrown a challenge to the international community to take the required preventive measures.
His concern about the rise of Islamophobia which can have serious consequences for social harmony in the societies where it has raised its ugly head and for global peace cannot be dismissed lightly. No doubt the anti-Muslim feelings in the western world and the rise of ultra right parties is a reaction to the acts of terrorist carried out by some misguided Muslim groups in the name of Islam but the fact is that majority of the Muslims around the world reject this phenomenon in all its manifestations and believe in interfaith and communal harmony. Islam is a religion of peace and universal brotherhood. Islamophobia is indeed a very serious issue at present and needs to be tackled collectively. Probably the UN could take initiative in this regard because global and regional peace is inextricably linked to the tackling of the three major issues pointed out by the Prime Minister.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.