United Nations: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday raised the Kashmir issue in his maiden address to the UN General Assembly and demanded that India must lift the ‘inhuman curfew’ in Kashmir and release all ‘political prisoners’.
In his speech that went on for about 50 minutes, far exceeding the 15-minute limit for UN speeches during the General Debate, Khan devoted half of his address to the Kashmir issue, warning that if there’s face-off between two nuclear-armed neighbours, the consequences would be far beyond their borders.
His war rhetoric was in sharp contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s peace message from the same podium few minutes earlier in which he said India is a country, that has “given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace.”
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue after India withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir August 5, but New Delhi has asserted the abrogation of Article 370 was its ‘internal matter’.
India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian ambassador.
In his address to the UNGA, Khan spoke at length about India’s decision to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and criticised the government’s move to put in place a communication lockdown.
He said India ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, flouting 11 resolutions of the UN Security Council, Simla agreement and its own Constitution.
“What is the world community going to do. Is it going to appease a market of 1.2 billion, or is it going to stand up for justice and humanity,” the Pakistani prime minister said.
“…This is the time to take action. And number one action must be that India must lift the inhuman curfew” in Kashmir, Khan said. “It must free all political prisoners,” he added.
He went on to say that the world community must give the people of Kashmir the right of self determination.
Asserting that the situation in Kashmir will deteriorate once India lifts the curfew, Khan said, “you hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.”
He said once the curfew is lifted, “there will be a reaction” and India will blame Pakistan.
“Two nuclear-armed countries will come face to face, like we came in February,” he said, a reference to the stand-off between the two nations following the Pulwama terror attack on an Indian police convoy and India’s subsequent air strikes on terror camps in Balakot in Pakistan.
“If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. A country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice – either you surrender or you fight for your freedom till death.”
In such a scenario, he said, his country will fight. “And when a nuclear armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders. It will have consequences for the world… I’m warning you, it’s not a threat. It’s a fear.”
He said, “and before we head in that direction, the United Nations has a responsibility. This is why the United Nations came into being in 1945. You were supposed to stop this from happening.”
Khan said when he came to power last year, he decided to mend fences with neighbours and bring peace in the region.
“When we came to power we decided we would dismantle (terror groups)… I know India keeps alleging that these groups are there. I welcome UN observers, see for yourself,” Khan said, urging the world body to take note of his action against the terror groups in Pakistan.
“I have friends in India and I love going to India. So when my party came to power, we reached out to India and (said) let’s resolve differences through trade,” Khan said, adding that unfortunately the two sides didn’t make any head way.
He also spoke about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), saying Prime Minister Modi is a life member of the organisation.