NEW YORK/ ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India are gearing up for a showdown over the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir at the 71st session of the UN General Assembly as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be arriving in New York today (Sunday).
Premier Sharif, who will address the world body on September 21, is expected to highlight grave human rights violations by Indian security forces in their campaign to quell an uprising sparked off by the killing of a popular separatist leader in July.
His Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, has decided to skip the session. And according to the Indian media, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will lead the Indian delegation instead. She will take the podium on September 26, and Indian officials say she would counter Sharif’s speech.
Premier Sharif has conferred with the Kashmiri leadership in Muzaffarabad before leaving for New York on Saturday. He has already sent emissaries to world capitals to highlight rights abuses by Indian security forces in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) where more than 80 people have been killed and thousands injured in violent protests.
In his speech, Premier Sharif will nail down Pakistan’s position on key global and regional issues, but will specially focus on the situation in the IOK, according to a statement issued by his office. “The prime minister will call upon the international community and the United Nations to live up to their promise to offer the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
“The prime minister will reinforce Pakistan’s call on the world body to play its role in immediately ending these grave violations,” said the statement.
Sharif will also dilate on the efforts of the present government to curb the menace of terrorism besides its endeavour to bring stability to the region.
According to sources, the prime minister will also meet US Secretary State John Kerry to discuss regional situation related to Pakistan. He will raise the matter of Indian intervention in Pakistan through its agents to sabotage peace. Sharif will also take up the matter related to cooperation between the two countries to eliminate terrorism and its supporters.
The prime minister will also meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and discuss the situation that emerged after failed coup attempt of coup in Turkey. The two leaders will also discuss steps to further strengthen ties between the two countries, especially in the field of trade and defence.
The premier will also hold an extensive meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Regional security challenges and relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will also come under discussion.
Meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz and Chinese prime minister is also scheduled. The two leaders will discuss the progress on the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. They will also discuss the regional situation especially in Afghanistan.
Sources in the PM House told The Express Tribune that the premier is leading a top-level delegation, comprising more than 50 members, including diplomatic, defence and intelligence authorities as well as his trusted aides and staff members.
According to an official, Pakistan has decided also to take up the issue of involvement of RAW in fomenting terrorism in different parts of Pakistan, especially in Balochistan.
The decision to highlight Indian involvement in Balochistan has been taken after India accused Pakistan of the so-called human rights violations in the province at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), he said, while requesting anonymity.
The official said the world hardly takes India seriously when it talks about Balochistan as it is not a disputed territory and Pakistan’s internal matter.
“The situation is otherwise when we talk about issues like Indian atrocities in the IOK and its involvement in terrorism in Balochistan and elsewhere. With the confessions of Indian spy, Kulbhushan Yadav, and all that we have a lot in store to call the shots,” he claimed.
Yadav, a serving commander in the Indian Navy, was arrested in March near the border region of Chaman when he was illegally entering into Pakistan via Iran. In a video confession, Yadav later accepted his involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi.
Interestingly, a statement issued by the PM House following PM’s departure for the New York did not mention Pakistan’s proposed stance regarding India’s involvement in terrorism in Balochistan. However, it termed Sharif’s visit as ‘most important.’
Foreign affairs analyst Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi said not mentioning Indian involvement in Balochistan seems to be part of a strategy. “The focus is on Kashmir in the backdrop of huge uprising in the valley. By sticking to a Kashmir-centric policy and giving it preference over everything else, Pakistan wants to highlight the issue’s significance,” he told The Express Tribune.
Nawaz will also address meetings being convened to focus on the global refugees’ crisis. Pakistan is expected to highlight its decades’ long contribution in hosting millions of registered Afghan refugees, whose stay has been extended by the government till March 31, 2017.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2016.
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