PM Imran highlights Kashmir, Islamophobia at UNGA

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NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday commenced his address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) speaking about the climate emergency the world faces at present and urging the United Nations “to take leadership for this”.

Terming it an “urgent problem that the world must address”, PM Imran said: “I feel there’s a lack of seriousness, perhaps some of the leaders who can do a lot, do not realise the urgency of the situation.”

Billions of dollars siphoned off by ruling elite

The second issue, which the Pakistani premier termed as “even more critical”, was how “every year, billions of dollars leave the poor countries and go towards rich countries”.

PM Imran said: “Billions of dollars [are] siphoned off by the ruling elite to Western countries.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives to address the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, US, September 27, 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

He told the world leaders that money-laundering, “which happens because money leaves poor countries and goes to rich countries,” was devastating the developing world, causing more poverty and deaths, and impoverishing those countries.

The PM called for the rich countries of the world to “show political will” and asked how were the poor countries expected to spend money on human development in accordance with what the UN asks when money left the developing countries.

Islamophobia

Noting that there were 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, PM Imran explained that Islamophobia, “since 9/11, has grown at a pace which is alarming”.

This menace, he said, was creating a division. The premier, highlighting hypocrisy around the world, said: “A women can take off her clothes but cannot put on more clothes?

“Hijab has become an issue in some countries … it is seen as a weapon,” he said.

PM Imran said there were terms like radical Islam and Islamic terrorism and that was what was contributing to the spread of Islamophobia.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, US, September 27, 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

“How is a person in New York, in Midwest in the US, or in Europe, how is he going to distinguish” between the two versions of Islam considering the rise of Islamophobia, PM Imran asked.

“Terrorism has nothing to do with any religion,” he emphasised. The term, he noted, was “used by some leaders [and] it has caused pain among the Muslims.

“Muslim countries watch Islamophobia travelling [and spreading and] it is getting worse,” he said. “In the European countries, it is marginalising the communities and marginalisation leads to radicalisation.

“After 9/11, it came as war against radical Islam [but] in all communities, there are radicals,” the PM said, adding that Islamophobia had bumped the hatred against the Muslim community and that it was almost like physical pain.

‘Most critical’ Kashmir issue

His fourth — and the “most critical” of issues during the UNGA speech — was to draw the world’s attention to the emerging humanitarian crisis in Indian occupied Kashmir.

PM Imran said: “This is the reason why I especially came here; it is about what is happening in Kashmir.

“I want to make one thing clear that when we came to power, my first priority was that Pakistan would be a country that will try its best to bring peace. We had been through this war on terror,” he added.

“We went though a nightmare. 70,000 people were killed. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11. The Taliban were in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan.

“When we came to power, we decided that we would dismantle what was left of these groups,” he added.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, US, September 27, 2019. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

The premier then went on to talk about how India, under the guise of “Islamic terrorism”, was inflicting more cruelty on the Kashmiri people. “There is no other narrative left for India,” he stressed, adding that there was probability of another Pulwama-like incident from New Delhi to blame and “bomb” Islamabad.

Due to these issues, the eight million people under a curfew, as well as the communication  and media  blackout, in the valley were likely to get radicalised, he warned.

PM Imran is in New York as part of his week-long visit to the US, where he has held meetings with US President Donald Trump, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad, pressing them to raise the issue of Kashmir at the UN.

During his discussions with the global leaders, media interaction, and speeches, he also spoke of climate change, solving the Afghan imbroglio, and the crisis in the Gulf region.

It is noteworthy that PM Imran’s Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, addressed the UNGA session ahead of him.