With Kashmir in focus, PM heads to UN

Published: September 20, 2019
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A file photo of PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan begins a weeklong visit to the United States on Saturday to attend the UN General Assembly session and be part of a host of other activities, including a meeting President Donald Trump.

“Overall, the centrality of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute would be emphasised through the myriad engagements,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office here on Friday, just ahead of the prime minister’s visit to New York.

The statement said he will lead the Pakistan delegation during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly session in New York from 21-27 September. The foreign minister will also attend the General Assembly session, interact with his counterparts from various countries, and address important ministerial meetings, especially the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.

The prime minister will hold several bilateral meetings with his counterparts from various regions and participate in high-level UN summits on climate change, sustainable development, universal health coverage and financing for development.

Although, the official handout did not mention, sources said, Prime Minister Imran will have meeting with President Trump on the sidelines of the UNGA. This will be the second meeting between the two leaders in two months. Last time the two met at the White House on July 22 when Imran undertook his maiden visit to Washington as the prime minister.

The sources said Kashmir dispute particularly the current situation in the occupied territory and the never-ending Afghan conflict would dominate the discussions between the two leaders. The meeting between Imran and Trump has added significance given the fact that the US president would also interact with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump may have decided to join Modi’s public meeting of Indian-Americans in Houston but in a balancing act he described having “great relationship” with Pakistan.

The highlight of the prime minister’s visit would, nevertheless, be his maiden address to the UN General Assembly. His address would focus on recent Indian decision to strip the disputed territory of its special status and subsequent curfew and restrictions imposed on the valley.

He would also raise human rights issues in Kashmir and target Modi, according to a Foreign Office official. The Foreign Office said the prime minister will address the General Assembly on Friday, September 27, and share Pakistan’s perspective and position on the Kashmir dispute and its current human rights and related dimensions.

The prime minister will also avail the opportunity to articulate Pakistan’s perspective on some key contemporary issues. Pakistan has always been a strong advocate of and one of the leading contributors to the United Nations work in the areas of peace, security and development. The prime minister’s visit will further reinforce Pakistan’s abiding commitment to the UN Charter, international law and cooperative multilateralism, with the UN at its core.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said the prime minister will also speak at high-level side events co-hosted by Pakistan and Turkey on countering hate speech and environmental protection and poverty alleviation, co-hosted by Malaysia and Pakistan. A trilateral summit meeting of Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey will be held on the fringes of the General Assembly.

Apart from these engagements, the prime minister will interact with cross-section of international media, including meetings with editorial boards. The prime minister’s speaking engagements at leading think-tanks and meetings with heads of major international human rights organisations are also envisaged.

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