UNITED NATIONS: (Ch Mudassar Iqbal)): Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday called on the United Nations to intervene and settle the decades-old Kashmir problem, warning there would be a bloodbath when India lifted its curfew in the disputed state and that any all-out conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations would have consequences beyond their borders.
“This is a test for the United Nations … you have a responsibility,” he said in an impassioned speech before world leaders.
The occupied Kashmir has been under lockdown since India revoked its special status on August 5, and the prime minister said armed forces there would turn on the population after the curfew was lifted.
“There are 900,000 troops there, they haven’t come to, as Narendra Modi says — for the prosperity of Kashmir… These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do? When they come out? There will be a bloodbath,” he told the United Nations General Assembly in its gold-and-blue hall.
Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke for 43 minutes extempore, out of which he devoted 25 minutes to the deteriorating human rights in Kashmir that has heightened tensions between India and Pakistan.
Outside the UN building, thousands of Pakistanis, Kashmiris, Muslims from various countries and Sikhs staged one of the biggest rally in New York that condemned India’s annexation of the occupied Kashmir, with vociferous slogans against Modi and demanding of the UN to act and implement its resolutions promising the right of self-determination to Kashmiri people.
A large number of women and children were among protestors as well as people in wheel chairs,In his well-reasoned speech highlighting the plight of Kashmiri people, Imran Khan said, “If this goes wrong, you hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.”
He said, “If a conventional war starts between the two countries … anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice – either you surrender or you fight for your freedom till death?
“What will we do? I ask myself this question … and we will fight. … and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders,” he told cheering delegates.
“That’s not a threat,” he said of his war comments. “It’s a fair worry. Where are we headed?”
An hour earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the UN meeting, glossing over the repression he has let loose in Kashmir, but spoke about rising of terrorism.
Imran Khan sketched out a scenario under which he said he would pick up arms if had been forced to live under curfew, to witness rapes and to suffer humiliation.
“I picture myself. I am in Kashmir. I have been locked up for 55 days … and there are rapes, Indian army going into homes, soldiers. Would I want to live this humiliation? Would I want to live like that? I would pick up a gun,” he said.
“You are forcing people into radicalization.”
The prime minister targeted Modi in his speech and accused him of being a “life member” of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist organization that, he said, believed in the “ethnic-cleansing” of Muslims.
He addressed the General Assembly’s 74th session a day after the senior US diplomat for South Asia called on India to take rapid action to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there.
US President Donald Trump met separately with both Modi and Imran Khan on the sidelines of the UN gathering. Trump urged Modi to improve ties with Pakistan and “fulfill his promise to better the lives of the Kashmiri people,” the White House said.
At the outset, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke on the critical issue of climate change, where he said the issue was not of a single country but should be dealt with collectively.
“Our country is among the top 10 nations in the world, which are most affected by climate change,” he said.
“Pakistan being an agricultural country primarily, derives 80 per cent of its water from glaciers,” said the prime minister, adding the glaciers were melting at an alarming pace.
“I feel the UN must take leadership of this problem,” he said, adding that the great powers would have to step up.
The prime minister raised the issue of corruption in poorer countries and billions of dollars being siphoned off to richer countries and tax havens.
“Every year, billions of dollars leave the poor countries and go to the rich countries. Billions of dollars are siphoned off from the poor countries. This is devastating for the poorer countries,” he said, calling for action to stop that phenomenon.
Speaking on the menace of Islamophobia, the prime minister said billions of Muslims were living as minorities in the Western countries and since 9/11 the rise in Islamophobia was ‘alarming’.
He said there should be an understanding for each other’s faiths, but they were seen as creating division among global population.