It was a highly impressive performance. And the content was even more impressive. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday Sept 27 is likely to go down as one of the memorable events of UNGA’s history. As diplomacy does not come naturally to PM Khan, a world celebrity in his own right, he did not speak as he had wished to as the Ambassador of the people of IOK. Rather he argued, in the highest court of world public opinion, like a consummate lawyer with all the force of his personality, the case of the oppressed people of IOK who had had been suffering the atrocities of the Indian occupation forces for the last over 70 years.
He was exceptionally candid. He did not mince his words as he went hammer and tongue against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his political platform, the Hindutva and his August 5 action. He castigated in the bitterest of terms what he called Modi’s historic blunder in illegally annexing IOK, violating the Constitution of his own country and as many as 11 UN resolutions and at the same time trashing with complete impunity the UNSC’s historic commitment to hold plebiscite in Jammu& Kashmir.
The highlight of his more than 45-minute-long speech was intense criticism of India for its annexation of occupied Kashmir and the continued restrictions imposed in the region. He pleaded the case of the tyrannised people of IOK with great passion. That is why one feels that these words need to be repeated in the same sequence as many times as possible and as long as it takes the whole world to listen to each of his warnings.
A suggestion: Send a copy of video of PM Khan’s UNGA speech to all our embassies with instructions to screen it for the benefit of most influential politicians and media persons of host countries; no more than five to six guests at a time, preceded or followed by a dinner and discussion session. Lashing out at the Hindutva government of Modi PM Khan said: “And then their agenda became obvious on August 5 when they went against all laws (and revoked occupied Kashmir’s autonomy). “They (India) got an extra 180,000 troops there, the total forces are now 900,000. They have put eight million people under curfew.
“Now I must explain what RSS is. Modi is a life member (of RSS). “It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race. “They believe in ethnic cleansing of Muslims. They believe a golden age of Hindu rule was stopped by Muslims and then the British occupation. “What kind of people bring in 900,000 troops for eight million people. These are human beings. “What comes with Aryan superiority is arrogance and it makes people commit mistakes and do stupid cruel things like what Modi has done. “It is arrogance that has blinded Modi. Has he thought about what will happen after the curfew in Kashmir is lifted? Actually, here PM Khan is daring Modi to lift the 56-day long lockdown.
“What will he do? Does he think the people of Kashmir will quietly accept the status quo? Here Imran Khan is provoking Modi. “(Nearly) 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination. Eleven thousand women were raped. “The world hasn’t done anything. “What is going to happen will be a blood bath. The people will come out. “Has he thought it through what happens then? Has anyone thought what happens when there is a bloodbath. “What do you think they (Kashmiris) will think of the way they have been boxed in?” He noted that even pro-India local leaders were taken out of Kashmir as part of the crack down and 13,000 boys were picked up and taken to unknown locations. “What will the people do then? Take to the streets. The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns. “And so Kashmiris will be further radicalised. There will be another Pulwama. And they (India) will blame us. “They are already blaming us. They said we have 500 terrorists lined up to go in.
“Why would we send 500 terrorists when there are 900,000 troops? “There will only be further cruelty on Kashmiris. It will give them the excuse to chant on the mantra of Islamic terrorism. “The whole world then turns away. “How do we (Pakistan) benefit from further increasing cruelty on the people of Kashmir?” Prime Minister Imran said there is no other narrative left for India. “Whatever happens we will be blamed. “What does Modi think the 180 million Muslims of India are thinking? Aren’t they watching these Kashmiris stuck in? “Don’t you think they too will be radicalised? Then there will be blame on us again. “What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims? What do you think they would think?
“What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck. Are we children of a lesser God? “Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms,” he said, citing the analogy of a Hollywood film. “Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam. Because they see no justice. “I have pictured myself locked up for 55 days. There are rapes, soldiers going into rooms. “Would I want to let this humiliation continue? I would pick up a gun” “You are forcing people into radicalisation,” he said, addressing the Indian leadership. “This is one of the most critical times. There will be a reaction to this and Pakistan will be blamed.
“Two nuclear countries will come face to face. “Before we head there the UN has a responsibility; this is why the UN came into being in 1945. You were supposed to stop this from happening. “I feel like we are back in 1939 [when] Czechoslovakia was annexed. “Is the international community going to appease or stand up for justice or humanity. “If a conventional war starts between the two countries, supposing a country seven times smaller is faced with a choice to surrender or fight to the end. “When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders. Here perhaps PM Khan was too candid for Pakistan’s own good. Perhaps we would have been better off not delivering the nuclear warning. The whole world knows the two of us possess nuclear weapons. There was no need for him to send nuclear jitters through the world capitals.
He continued: “This is a test of the UN. You are the one who guaranteed the Kashmiris the right (of self-determination). “This is the time not to appease but to take action.” He said the very first action that India needs to take is to lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir and then release all detained prisoners. “And then the world community must give the Kashmiris the right of self-determination,” the prime minister stressed. He spoke from the heart on all the four topics that he chose to speak on. He was spell-binding when he was speaking about the hottest topic of today’s world—climate change. He regretted that the seriousness with which money from drugs or terror financing is treated is not accorded to money laundered from poor countries.
“Corrupt elites must not be allowed to park their money (abroad). Why do we have these tax havens? “Why shouldn’t rich people pay taxes? Why are they legal, these secret accounts? Here again the PM is too off the mark. Corruption is a necessary side-effect of capitalism which draws most of its strength from democracy and market economy. In fact, when democracy and market economy function side by side, corruption becomes a norm which can only be kept at a minimum locally by establishing an independent judiciary, a strong parliament and a fearless media. Addressing the prevalence of Islamophobia, Prime Minister Imran said it has grown at an alarming pace. He questioned the use of the term ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ saying: “There is only one Islam. “What message does this (the term) send? How is a person in New York going to distinguish between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims? “In European countries it is marginalising Muslims, and this leads to radicalisation.
— The writer is veteran journalist and a former editor based in Islamabad.