India calls PM Imran’s UNGA address ‘hate speech’

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NEW YORK: India has rebutted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech on Saturday at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

In a strongly-worded reply, Vidisha Maitra, the first secretary of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, called the premier’s address “hate speech” and said it attempts to sharpen differences and stir up hatred.

She pointed out that the General Assembly rarely witnesses such misuse or “abuse” as she called it, of an opportunity to reflect. “Words matter in diplomacy,” she said, adding that using words such as “pogrom”, “bloodbath”, “racial superiority”, “pick up the gun” and “fight to the end” reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st century vision.

“Mr Khan’s threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinkmanship, not statesmanship,” the Indian representative remarked. “Prime Minister Khan’s justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary,” she said, claiming that the premier comes from a country that has “monopolized the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism”.

“For someone who was once a cricketer, and believed in the gentleman’s game, today’s speech bordered on crudeness of a variety reminiscent of the guns of Dara Adamkhel,” she stated.

Mentioning PM Khan’s invitation to UN observers to visit Pakistan to verify that there are no militant organizations in the country, Maitra said: “The world will hold him to that promise”.

She laid out a set of questions, which she said Pakistan can respond to, as a precursor to the proposed verification.

“Can Pakistan confirm the fact that it is home to 130 UN-designated terrorists and 25 terrorist entities listed by the UN as of today?” she asked. “Will Pakistan acknowledge that it is the only government in the world that provides pension to an individual listed in the Al Qaeda and Da’esh sanctions list?”

She also asked PM Khan whether he would deny that he was an “open defender of Osama bin Laden”. The Indian representative said Pakistan is trying to play its wild card as the newfound champion of human rights.

“This is a country that has shrunk the size of its minority community from 23% in 1947, to 3% today, and has subjected Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, Hindus, Shias, Pashtuns, Sindhis, and Balochs to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuse and forced conversions,” she claimed.

“The newfound fascination for preaching human rights is akin to trophy-hunting of the endangered mountain goat, the Markhor,” she added.

The Indian envoy claimed that Pakistan has been a part of “gruesome genocide” against its people in 1971.

She 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 strive on conflict never welcome the ray of peace”.

“While Pakistan has ventured to upstream terrorism and downstream hate speech there, India has gone ahead with mainstreaming development in Jammu and Kashmir,” she added.

She concluded by saying that Indians do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf, “least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate.”