Imran Khan’s war rhetoric at UNGA ignores basic principles of UN, reflects futility of Pakistan’s Kashmir project

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s impassioned 50-minute speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Friday seems to be the last ditch attempt by the country to drum up global support for “the cause of Kashmir”.

Or was Khan’s speech directed at people back home, who are sorely disappointed over the country’s failed efforts to garner international support for the Kashmir issue?

 Imran Khan’s war rhetoric at UNGA ignores basic principles of UN, reflects futility of Pakistans Kashmir project

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. AP

Given an open admission by Khan and his interior minister Brigadier Ijaz Ahmed Shah that Islamabad has failed to get adequate response on the issue from the international community, Khan could not possibly return home from the US visit empty-handed. He had to hit the right notes on the platform provided by the UNGA, which had heads of state of nearly 200 countries in attendance.

It is almost two months since India abrogated Article 370. The Constitutional provision bestowed special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in its relation with India, and nothing has obsessed Pakistan since then.

Khan, like the rest of his country, had expected Islamic countries and the western powers to rally around Pakistan against India’s decision to change its internal relations with the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, no such thing happened except for token statements by those who matter saying that both countries should resolve their differences bilaterally.

On 24 September, at the start of his US visit, Khan had said, “I am disappointed by the international community. There’s no pressure on Modi yet. We’ll keep putting the pressure.”

Earlier, on 12 September, Pakistan’s interior minister Brigadier Ijaz Ahmed Shah had openly admitted the failure.

Blaming Pakistan’s ‘ruling elite’, including Imran Khan, for “destroying the country’s image”, Shah had said on a talk show on Pakistan news channel Hum News, “We say they (India) impose curfew and are not giving medicines to people of Jammu and Kashmir. People do not believe us, but they believe them. The ruling elite has destroyed the country. People think we are not a serious nation.”

Pakistan, since 5 August, has not left any stone unturned in raising the bogey of nuclear war that will destroy not just South Asia but the entire world, in order to influence international opinion on the subject. However, no nation has shown any keenness on buying this theory of Pakistan’s prime minister.

Support of Islamic nations

Prime Minister of Pakistan had even figured out the reason behind this disappointment, “They see India as a market of 1.2 billion people,” he had said recently, referring to Islamic nations.

However, what is more shocking for the establishment in Pakistan is its failure to get support even from the Islamic countries. Apart from Turkey and Malaysia, no other Islamic country has come out in open support of Pakistan on the issue, with most responding with the token ‘bilateral issue’, ‘peace needs to be maintained’ statements.

Soon after the Article 370 abrogation, when UAE honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi with its highest civilian honour, the Zayed Medal, Pakistan had gone into mourning, expressing a sense of betrayal on UAE’s act. Though the award had been announced much earlier by the UAE, on 4 April earlier this year, it was actually conferred on Modi when he visited the country on 23 August.

The UAE, needless to add, is one of the most important Islamic countries in the world and its decision to award Modi with its highest civilian honour carries unprecedented weight. In protest, Pakistan’s Senate chairman Sadiq Khan Sanjrani had cancelled his visit to the UAE.

Prior to the UAE, other Islamic nations like Bahrain, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Maldives too had honoured Modi, which needless to say frustrated Pakistan and its prime minister.

Pak PM’s address, a violation of UN’s basic principle

While, Modi in his statesman-like address, took up issues of development and country’s roadmap for a new India, Imran Khan probably wasn’t aware or chose to conveniently ignore the basic principle, role and functioning of the UN and the UNGA.

The UN was founded on 24 October, 1945, to replace the League of Nations following World War II in order to prevent another conflict and was established to promote international cooperation.

The UNGA is the only universally representative body of the UN and its function is to discuss, debate and make recommendations on subjects pertaining to international peace and security, including development, disarmament, human rights, international law and the peaceful arbitration of disputes between nations.

Given the basic principle of UNGA, Khan’s speech was in sharp contrast to Modi’s sobriety and maturity. While the Indian PM honoured the forum’s sanctity, his counterpart Khan stuck to his war rhetoric and focus on Kashmir, and even hinted on a full-fledged war using its nuclear weapon.

India’s rebuttal

Today, India exercised its Right to Reply to issue a rebuttal to Imran Khan’s speech and mentioned his threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualified as “brinksmanship, not statesmanship”.

It also questioned, “And would Prime Minister Khan deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden?” and “Can Pakistan explain why here in New York, its premier bank, the Habib Bank had to shut shop after it was fined millions of dollars over terror financing?”

It clearly indicated Pakistan’s strong obsession for harbouring terrorism and the recent rant of Khan was just its extension.

What next for Pakistan?

Despite China by its side, Pakistan has to clean up its act if it wants any resolution of the Kashmir issue.

China recently ‘reassured Pakistan of its support and commitment’ and had announced that it supported Islamabad’s decision to approach the UN Security Council in the wake of India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

First secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Vidisha Maitra, on behalf of Indian government at UNGA, said, “Pakistan’s virulent reaction to the removal of an outdated and temporary provision that was hindering development and integration of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir stems from the fact that those who thrive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace.”

Going by Maitra’s concluding statement, it seems that it won’t be an easy task for the Pakistani prime minister, who’s under pressure from the Pakistan army and public at large, to garner support for his Kashmir stand.

After all, Imran Khan also has to save his seat.

Updated Date: Sep 28, 2019 21:11:54 IST

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