PRIME Minister Imran Khan’s speech in the United Nations General Assembly will go down in the history as one of the best speeches delivered in the august assembly. As regards Kashmir issue, none of Pakistani leaders had ever presented Pakistan’s case in such a forceful manner in UNGA as Imran Khan did. Though during his 55 minute address, he spoke on climate change, stashing of funds by the corrupt rulers and money launderers in western banks; and on Islamophobia, he spent 26 minutes on exposing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his association with RSS and acts of barbarism on the people of India-occupied Kashmir. People of Pakistan, Hurriyat leaders and Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC hailed Imran Khan’s brilliant speech at the UNGA. After Imran Khan finished his speech, scores of people came on the streets and raised slogans for Azadi or (freedom).
Prominent Kashmiri leader and President of the Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement (JKSM) Altaf Ahmad Bhat said the Prime Minister exposed India’s state terrorism and its nefarious designs in the IoK. “The speech has given new hope to the besieged Kashmiris,” he said. India may be six times larger than Pakistan in terms of population and area, but the Pakistani Prime Minister is more popular than his Indian counterpart. According to Google Trends, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was among the five most searched international leaders attending the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly, and was second to US President Donald Trump. PML-N leaders like Ahsan Iqbal and Mushahad Hussain Syed acknowledged the eloquence and substance of his address at UNGA; however Ahsan Iqbal said that “Imran Khan has been a good orator, not realizing that his speech was argumentative and substantive.
However, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said: “The Prime Minister did not present the Kashmir issue properly in the General Assembly session. I wish the Prime Minister would have visited the whole world 50 days ago and raised the issue of Kashmir”, he added. He conveniently forgot that Imran Khan has been in touch with Mahathir Muhammad of Malaysia, Recep Urdagan of Turkey and other leaders who spoke about the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir in their speeches in the august assembly. Bilawal Bhutto always called Imran Khan as a selective leader, not realizing that he himself an accidental leader who became head of the PPP on the basis of controversial will of late Benazir Bhutto, as many believed that it was fake and not the real. It is unfortunate that PPP leaders like Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Qamar Zaman Kaira and other seniors accept Bilawal as their leader.
On Pakistan TV channels, Imran Khan’s speech at UNGA has been hailed by the analysts and panelists in general. In a talk show of a private Channel former Foreign Secretary and a seasoned diplomat Shamshad Ahmed Khan took exception to irrelevant questions by the anchor person and a panelist, yet he said that no one in the past had presented Pakistan’ case in UNGA as Imran Khan did. One of the panelists asked him what next after the speech. Shamshad Ahmed Khan said that after the speech, Imran Khan should board the plane and rush back to Pakistan to address the domestic issues. He has emerged as a statesman; his success in the realm of foreign policy is due to his vision, charisma and aura. However, he will have to focus on improving governance and giving relief to the people, and for this he has to replace inept ministers.
As regards terrorism, Imran Khan quoted Tamil Tigers (Hindus) that had resorted to terrorism and suicide bombings to prove his point that terrorism has no religion. In his book ‘Sociology’, renowned Sociologist Anthony Giddens had given details of some of the principal terrorist groups active during 1980s on pages 374/375 (Table 11.1). Out of 26 groups, only 5 were Muslim groups fighting for the liberation of Palestine, which in fact could be counted as one group because they all had a common cause; the rest were all non-Muslim groups operating in European countries and elsewhere like Irish Republican Army (IRA), The Red Brigades in Italy and so forth. It follows that terrorists have no religion; it is therefore irrational to identify terrorism with Muslims or Islam. Imran Khan expressed his disappointment over Muslim leaders’ inability to convince the US and the West in that regard.
Having all said, the effects of his speech have started appearing. Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has decided to probe the ongoing siege in the India-occupied Kashmir and dissolution of its legislature. The announcement was made by President of the General Assembly of the 64th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Rebeca Alitwala Kadaga, in Ugandan Capital Kampala the other day. The decision was taken after Pakistan’s delegates, led by Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza drew attention of the House towards India’s illegal actions in occupied Kashmir. The Association asked Pakistan to submit a written application for an investigation in this matter. Fehmida said people of India-pccupied Kashmir have been under siege since 5 August and all local elected representatives are under detention and deprived of any voice. Delegates of the member states joined Pakistan delegation, yelling a loud “NO” as an Indian delegate tried to call the issue an internal matter of India.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.