Pakistan Reader# 215, 27 September 2021
On 24 September, Prime Minister Imran Khan remotely addressed the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in a pre-recorded message. In his speech urged the international community to support the Taliban's interim government in Afghanistan, urged for pressure on India for resolution of the Kashmir dispute, and called for the convening of a global dialogue on countering Islamophobia.
Asks the world to rally behind Afghanistan’s Taliban government
PM Khan stressing on the crisis in Afghanistan stated, “There is only one way to go. We must strengthen and stabilise the current government, for the sake of the people of Afghanistan.” He also attempted to dispel the perceptions about the Taliban, arguing that they have promised to respect human rights, set up an inclusive government, and prevent terrorist groups from using their soil, therefore, urging the world community to incentivise the Taliban to “walk this talk.” He added, “If the world can incentivise them to go this direction, then after all this 20-year presence of the coalition forces in Afghanistan would not be wasted. Because the Afghan soil would not be used by the international terrorists,” adding that it was a “critical time” for Afghanistan.
Calls for the resolution of Kashmir dispute
PM Khan called on the world community to take urgent steps for preventing a conflict between India and Pakistan by taking measures to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He reiterated that Pakistan wanted peace with India citing the renewed 2003 understanding on the LoC ceasefire out of hope which could force a “strategic rethink” in India. However, warned that Indian alleged provocative actions in Kashmir and human rights violations was detrimental to the situation. Additionally, he also criticised the world for its silence on alleged Indian actions in Kashmir, saying, “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.”
Asks UN to convene a global dialogue on countering Islamophobia
PM Khan called on the world to deal properly with Islamophobia, what he described as a “pernicious phenomenon” that must be combatted collectively. He said, “In the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrorism has been associated with Islam by some quarters. This has increased the tendency of right-wing, xenophobic and violent nationalists, extremists and terrorist groups to target Muslims,” adding, “The UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy has recognized these emerging threats.” Thus, he said, “I call on the secretary-general to convene a global dialogue on countering the rise of Islamophobia. Our parallel efforts, at the same time, should be to promote interfaith harmony, and they should continue.”
Three takeaways from the PM’s 76th UNGA address
First, the emphasis on Afghanistan. PM Khan used the UNGA address to shed light not only on the crisis in Afghanistan but called on the world to recognise the Taliban government. By doing so he has once again portrayed Pakistan’s support for the Taliban. Although he has maintained previously that recognition of the Taliban’s government would be a collective one, Pakistan seems to have made up its mind. Additionally, Pakistan’s has been a prominent player when it comes to Afghanistan, thus addressing the matter at the UNGA is another means of Pakistan proving their efforts.
Second, Pakistan’s rallying point; Kashmir and Islamophobia. In the recent past, Pakistan has become more vocal about the Kashmir cause and the problem of Islamophobia. Although the former was always been on any foreign address, Pakistan has upped the ante when it comes accusing India. As for the latter, combatting Islamophobia is relatively new, amidst the incidents of Islamophobia that have taken place across the world. Thus, PM Khan’s emphasis on the two at the UNGA is the clearest and strongest message that Islamabad could send to the world.
Third, Pakistan at international arenas. In the recent past, Pakistan has made substantial efforts in involving itself in international and regional forums, through which it hopes to be a prominent player. Additionally, Pakistan has been consistent in rallying certain issues, such as the Kashmir dispute, Afghan crisis, climate change and debt financing in developing countries among others. This has been seen in PM Khan’s address to the UNGA this year as well.
Thus, although PM Khan in his address brought the world’s attention to the several challenges, the address seems to be a repeat of his address to the UNGA in 2020. However, the address highlights the issues that Pakistan is most concerned about.
“Statement by the Prime Minister of Pakistan H.E. Imran Khan to the Seventy-sixth Session of the UN General Assembly,” The United Nations, 24 September 2021
Baqir Sajjad Syed, “PM solicits world support for new Afghan rulers,” Dawn, 25 September 2021
“Fair warning,” The Express Tribune, 26 September 2021
“PM Imran to address UNGA session today,” The Express Tribune, 24 September 2021
“PM’s speech,” The News International, 26 September 2021
“PM Imran warns India against misadventure in UNGA address,” The News International, 25 September 2020