India spreading Islamophobia, PM Imran tells UNGA

Premier demands justice for Kashmiris and Palestinians, urges world body to take lead in preventing global conflicts


Rizwan Shehzad   September 25, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses UNGA session. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday urged the United Nations to take the lead in preventing global conflicts as it remained the best legitimate avenue for collective action, managing international conflicts, fostering peace and security, promoting equitable development and addressing global problems.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 75th session, Imran highlighted Pakistan’s efforts for peace in the region and beyond, successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, endeavours to root out the menace of money laundering, while simultaneously cautioning the world against the rising Islamophobia.

In his address via a video link, Imran demanded justice for the Kashmiris and the Palestinians and warned against the increased threat of nuclear war, highlighted the threats posed to mankind due to climate change and the rise of authoritarian regimes, saying: “We must come together to prevent such a catastrophe.”

The prime minister also spoke about the state-sponsored Islamophobia in India, saying the reason behind it “is the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] ideology that rules India today”. He said, “I want to make it clear that any attempt by the fascist totalitarian RSS-led Indian government to aggress against Pakistan will be met by a nation that will fight for its freedom to the end.”

Describing Kashmir as a “nuclear flashpoint”, Imran made it clear that “there will be no durable peace and stability in South Asia until the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved” on the basis of international legitimacy.

Imran argued that the UN Security Council (UNSC) must prevent a disastrous conflict and secure the implementation of its own resolutions, as it did in the case of East Timor. The UNSC had considered the situation in Jammu and Kashmir three times in the past year, he said, adding that it must take appropriate enforcement actions and it must also take steps to protect the Kashmiris from an impending genocide by India.

Imran said that Pakistan had always called for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute. To this end, he added, India must rescind the measures it had instituted since August 5, 2019, end its military siege and other gross human rights violations, and agree to “resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and, of course, the wishes of the people of Kashmir”.

Emphasising that the brave Kashmiris would never submit to Indian occupation and oppression, Imran said that the government and the people of Pakistan were committed to standing by and supporting their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in the legitimate struggle for their right to self-determination.

Imran urged the international community to investigate the grave human rights violations and prosecute the Indian civil and military personnel involved in state terrorism and serious crimes against humanity, being perpetrated with complete impunity.

“The objective of this brutal campaign is to impose what the RSS-BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] regime has itself called the ‘Final Solution’ for Jammu and Kashmir,” he noted. “To this end, the military siege is being followed by moves to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.”

Imran told the general assembly that it was an attempt to obliterate the distinct Kashmiri identity in order to affect the outcome of a plebiscite envisaged in the Security Council resolutions. “This action is in violation of the UN Charter, council resolutions and international law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention. Changing demographic structure of occupied territory is a war crime,” he said.

For over 72 years, he highlighted, India had illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir against the wishes of the Kashmiri people, and in blatant violation of the resolutions of the Security Council and indeed its own commitments to the people of Kashmir.

Urging the UN secretary general to take the lead in preventing global conflicts, Prime Minister Imran said that the secretary general should convene summit-level meetings to address regional hotspots and resolve outstanding disputes.

“The United Nations should be made fully responsive to the challenges of our times. A comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, is essential to promote greater democracy, accountability, transparency and efficiency,” he added.

“According to respected Prof Noam Chomsky, mankind is at an even greater risk than it was before the first and second world wars in the last century and this is because of the increased threat of nuclear war, climate change, and sadly the rise of authoritarian regimes,” he said. He emphasised that the driving force in international relations must be cooperation.

Islamophobia

“The [coronavirus] pandemic was an opportunity to bring humanity together,” Imran said, but unfortunately, he added, it had instead fanned nationalism, increased global tensions, and given rise to racial and religious hatred and violence against vulnerable minorities in several places.

“These trends have also accentuated ‘Islamophobia’. Muslims continue to be targeted with impunity in many countries. Our shrines are being destroyed; our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) insulted; the Holy Quran burnt – and all this in the name of freedom of speech,” he said.

“Incidents in Europe, including republication of blasphemous sketches by Charlie Hebdo, are recent examples,” he said, stressing that this wilful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be outlawed universally.

“This assembly should declare an ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ and build a coalition to fight this scourge – scourge that splits humanity,” he demanded.

RSS ideology

In his speech, Imran said that India was the only country in the world today where state-sponsored Islamophobia prevailed because of its RSS ideology. “The secularism of [Mahatma] Gandhi and [Jawaharlal] Nehru has been replaced by the dream of creating a Hindu Rashtra by subjugating, even cleansing India’s 200 million Muslims and other minorities.”

In 1992, the prime minister recalled, the RSS destroyed the Babri Mosque; in 2002, some 2,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Gujarat, and this was under the watch of Chief Minister [Narendra] Modi; and in 2007, over 50 Muslims were burnt alive by RSS arsonists aboard the Samjhota Express.

In Assam, he maintained, around two million Muslims faced the prospects of being arbitrarily stripped of their nationality through the adoption of discriminatory laws, adding that there were reports of large concentration camps being filled with by Muslim Indian citizens.

“Muslims were falsely blamed, vilified and victimised for spreading the coronavirus. They were denied medical attention on many occasions, their businesses were boycotted,” he said. “Cow vigilantes attack and kill Muslims with impunity.” Last February, he continued, Muslims faced targeted killings, with police complicity in New Delhi.

The Hindutva ideology was to marginalise almost 300 million human beings – Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. “This is unprecedented in the history and this does not augur well for the future of India as we all know that marginalisation of human beings leads to their radicalisation,” he said.

Peace in Afghanistan

Imran said that Pakistan’s desire for peace in the region was a manifestation of its efforts to promote a political solution in Afghanistan. “I have consistently maintained over the past two decades that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan,” he said. “The only way forward was and is a political settlement which involves the full spectrum of Afghanistan’s political actors.”

Pakistan fully facilitated the process that culminated in the US-Taliban peace agreement on February 29, 2020, he said.

He added that Pakistan had fulfilled its part of the responsibility and now the Afghan leaders “must seize this historic opportunity” to achieve reconciliation and restore peace in their war-torn country.

A festering wound

Palestine remains a ‘festering wound’, Prime Minister Imran reminded the world. He said that a just and lasting settlement was indispensable, for the Middle East, and the whole world. He told the UNGA that the illegal annexations of the Palestinian territories, the building of illegal settlements and the imposition of inhuman living conditions on the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, could not bring peace to a troubled region.

“Pakistan continues to support a two-state solution in line with the UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Within the internationally agreed parameters, they are; pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a united, contiguous and independent Palestinian state.”

Covid pandemic

On successfully flattening the Covid-19 curve in Pakistan, Imran told the international community that initially his government’s “smart lockdown” policy was heavily criticised, but the government not only managed to control the virus and stabilise the economy, but also protected the poorest segment of the society from the worst fallout of the lockdown.

“In our interconnected world, no-one is safe unless everyone is safe,” he said, adding that locking down to control the pandemic triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression in the last century. “This has hit the poorest countries the hardest as well as the poor in all the countries.”

“Today, Pakistan’s response is cited among the success stories in controlling and responding to the pandemic,” Imran said. “However, we are still not out of the woods, like no country is out of the woods today.”

Global framework

On the crisis emerging out of the pandemic, Imran described debt relief as one of the best ways to create fiscal space for developing countries.

Reminding the UNGA of his ‘Global Initiative on Debt Relief’, he said, the IMF had estimated that developing countries would need over $2.5 trillion to respond and recover from the crisis. Therefore, he added, the official debt suspension would need to be extended and expanded.

Calling for additional debt relief measures, he said, development banks should ensure adequate financial inflows and the rich countries which generated over $10 trillion to finance their own response and recovery, should support the creation of at least $500 billion in new Special Drawing Rights for the developing world.

“If this phenomenon is unaddressed, it will continue to accentuate the inequality between the rich and the poor nations, and will eventually spark a far bigger global crisis than the present migration issue poses,” he warned.

On the menace of money laundering, he said, the rich states cannot hold forth on human rights and justice when they provide sanctuary to money launderers and their looted wealth. He called upon the assembly to take the lead in efforts “to build a global framework to stem the illicit financial flows and ensure speedy repatriation of stolen wealth”.

Climate Change

Referring to the unprecedented fires in Australia, Siberia, California, Brazil and record flooding in various parts of the world; highest temperatures, even in the Arctic Circle, Imran reiterated that the threat posed to mankind due to climate change should “make us all worried for our future generations”.

“Commitments made through the Paris Agreement must be fulfilled, in particular the commitment to mobilise $100 billion annually as climate finance,” he said. Pakistan’s contribution to carbon emissions is minimal, he said, but it is one of those countries most-affected by the climate change. Yet, he said: “We have decided to take the lead as we consider addressing climate change a universal responsibility.”

At the outset, Imran highlighted his government’s efforts to fundamentally transform Pakistan into a ‘Naya Pakistan’, which is to be modelled on the principles of the State of Madina, established by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

He said that he envisioned a just and humane society where all government policies were directed at lifting the citizens out of poverty and creating a just and equitable dispensation. “To achieve this goal, we need to have peace and stability,” he said. “Thus, our foreign policy aims to have peace with our neighbours and settle disputes through dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the Indian delegate at the general assembly in New York, comprising a junior diplomat named Mijito Vinito, walked out of the hall when Prime Minister Imran started his speech, India’s Hindustan Times reported.

 

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