Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the world community to incentivise the Afghan Taliban instead of abandoning them at this critical juncture and encouraged them to shun a selective approach towards human rights violations in various parts of the world.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly via a video link, the prime minister highlighted various issues facing the world today, including Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, flight of looted money from poor countries to the rich states, and Islamophobia.
The prime minister while referring to a wave of oppression in the Indian-Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), said that Pakistan desired peace with its nuclear-armed neighbour but the onus was on New Delhi to create conducive environment for a meaningful engagement with Pakistan.
The prime minister told the 193-member UNGA that Pakistan was being blamed by some politicians in the United States and Europe for the current turn of events in Afghanistan despite the fact the country suffered the most by joining the war against terrorism after September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.
Imran said that the world must understand why the Taliban came back into power and why a 300,000 well-equipped Afghan army … gave up without a fight. “Unfortunately, in trying to force a military solution is where the US went wrong,” he added.
Imran regretted that Pakistan rendered immense sacrifices during the US-led war in Afghanistan but instead of appreciation, the country was blamed for the latest turn of events. “Imagine how we feel,” he asked. “There is a lot of worry in the US about taking care of the interpreters… What about us?”
Imran delved on the history of the Afghan war spanning over the last four decades. During the war against terror, Imran said that 50 militant groups were involved in attacking the state of Pakistan, besides there were 480 US drone strikes, which caused more collateral damage than killing militants.
“At one point, people like us were worried that will we survive this? There were bombs going all over Pakistan. Our capital was like a fortress. Had it not been for one of the most disciplined army in the world and one of the best intelligence agencies in the world, I think Pakistan would have gone down.”
He invited the whole international community to think what was the way ahead in Afghanistan. “There are two paths that we can take. If we neglect Afghanistan right now… there is a huge humanitarian crisis looming ahead,” he warned.
“And this will have serious repercussions not just for the neighbours of Afghanistan but everywhere. A destabilised, chaotic Afghanistan will again become a safe haven for international terrorists – the reason why the US came to Afghanistan in the first place,” he added.
Therefore, the prime minister emphasised that the only way was to strengthen and stabilise the current government. “If the world community incentivises them, and encourages them to walk this talk, it will be a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.
He reminded that Taliban had promised respect for human rights; an inclusive government; preventing their soil to be used by terrorists and had given amnesty. “These are the four things that the US-Taliban dialogue in Doha was all about,” he said.
“You cannot waste time. Help is needed there. Humanitarian assistance has to be given there immediately. The secretary general of the United Nations has taken bold steps. I urge you to mobilise the international community, and move in this direction,” the prime minister said.
He stressed that Afghanistan was passing through a critical time and if the world could incentivise them now then the 20-year presence of the coalition forces in Afghanistan would not be wasted.
“Islamophobia is another pernicious phenomenon that we all need to collectively combat,” the prime minister told the UNGA. He called for convening a global dialogue under the auspices of the secretary-general on countering the rise of this phenomenon.
Imran said that the worst and most pervasive form of Islamophobia now ruled India. “The hate-filled ‘Hindutva’ ideology, propagated by the fascist RSS-BJP regime, has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million strong Muslim community,” he said.
“Mob lynching by cow vigilantes; frequent pogroms, such as the one in New Delhi last year; discriminatory citizenship laws to purge India of Muslims; and a campaign to destroy mosques across India and obliterate its Muslim heritage and history, are all part of this criminal enterprise.”
The prime minister told the world community that India had embarked on what it ominously called the “final solution” for the Jammu and Kashmir dispute with a series of illegal and unilateral measures in the occupied territory since 5th August 2019.
“It has unleashed a reign of terror by an occupation force of 900,000; it has jailed senior Kashmiri leadership; imposed a clampdown on media and internet; violently suppressed peaceful protests; and abducted 13,000 young Kashmiris and tortured hundreds of them,” he pointed out.
Similarly, the prime minister added that the Indian occupation forces had carried out extrajudicial killing of hundreds of innocent Kashmiris in fake “encounters”; and imposed collective punishments by destroying entire neighbourhoods and villages.
Imran said that the most recent example of Indian barbarity was the forcible snatching of the mortal remains of the great Kashmiri leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, from his family, denying him a proper Islamic funeral and burial, in accordance with his wishes and Muslim traditions.
“We have unveiled a detailed dossier on gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Indian security forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Imran said. “Indian actions violate the resolutions of the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
“It is unfortunate, very unfortunate, that the world’s approach to violations of human rights lacks even-handedness, and even is selective. Geopolitical considerations, or corporate interests, commercial interests often compel major powers to overlook the transgressions of their “affiliated” countries.”
The prime minister made it clear that Pakistan desired peace with India but sustainable peace in South Asia is contingent upon resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
“The onus remains on India to create conducive environment for a meaningful engagement with Pakistan” by reversing its unilateral measures of August 5, 2019; stopping its oppression and rights violations against the Kashmiris and reversing demographic changes in the occupied territory, he said.
Covid and climate crises
Imran said that the world at present faced the triple challenge of the Covid-19, accompanying economic crisis, and the threats posed by climate change, adding that these threats not only exposed the fragility of the international system but also underscored the oneness of humanity.
“Pakistan has been successful so far in containing the Covid pandemic. Our calibrated strategy of ‘smart lockdowns’ helped save lives and livelihoods and kept the economy afloat. Over 15 million families survived through our social protection programme of Ehsaas.”
Imran described climate change as one of the primary existential threats to the planet. He pointed out that Pakistan’s contribution to global emissions was negligible, yet the country was among the 10 most vulnerable countries.
To address the triple crisis of Covid pandemic, economic downturn, and climate emergency, the prime minister proposed a three-pronged comprehensive strategy -- vaccine equity; adequate financing to developing countries; and the investment strategies to alleviate poverty and job creation.
Prime Minister Imran also proposed that the secretary-general convene a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) summit in 2025 to review and accelerate implementation of the SDGs.Corruption
The prime minister drew the world’s attention towards the scourge of illicit financial flows from developing countries, which according to the UN’s Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) estimates, amounted to $7 trillion.
“This organised theft and illegal transfer of assets has profound consequences for the developing nations. It depletes their already meagre resources, accentuates the levels of poverty especially when laundered money puts pressure on the currency and leads to its devaluation,” Imran said.
Imran acknowledged that retrieving those stolen assets from the developed countries was impossible for poor nations, but warned that “in the not-too-distant future a time will come when the rich countries will be forced to build walls to keep out economic migrants from these poor countries”.
He urged the UNGA to take steps to address this deeply disturbing, and morally repugnant, situation. “Naming and shaming the ‘haven’ destinations and developing a comprehensive legal framework to halt and reverse the illicit financial flows are most critical actions to stop this grave economic injustice.”
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