Prime Minister’s speech — merits and what we missed? Dr Syed Nazir Gilani


“Established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations, the General Assembly occupies a central position as the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.” It comprises of all 193 Members of the United Nations as equals. People who address this world forum, in fact speak on behalf of their respective country and it is the country that addresses the General Assembly.

There is a standard practice that a country would speak for 15 minutes. We have precedents that some countries have spoken much longer than that in the past. Prime Minister of Pakistan created an exception and spoke for 50 minutes and 39 seconds. Protocol, diction, style and technical elements play a very important role.

Every speaker in general carries his written statement, just to keep to the content and maintain the course. Ed Miliband UK Labour leader drifted from his written text during Labour Conference in September 2014. He fluffed his lines and forgot to mention economy in keynote speech. It cost him the election defeat.

Prime Minister of Pakistan did not rely on written text and trusted his natural instinct. A gamble which if avoided is better in the interests of one’s country. There is a law of forgetfulness and even prophets have prayed to Allah to overcome the risks of forgetfulness. One could notice that Prime Minister somehow did not congratulate the newly elected President of the General Assembly nor acknowledged the services of the outgoing President. He ended his address without specifically thanking the President.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his address with a quote from 3000 year old (Three Thousand) Tamil Poet Kaniyan Pungundranar, “we belong to all places and to everyone”, to strike a universal chord, but failed. His speech was mediocre and failed to lift off. Prime Minister of Pakistan disciplined his attack on RSS and Modi. He stripped Modi of all his humanity, in the context of his role in Gujrat Muslim massacre and now as author of unseen brutality in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian Prime Minister made a reference to terrorism, but could not keep his hands on the handle. People around the world and world leaders at the UN General assembly, had seen a sea of humanity protesting against Modi Government, on the lockdown of 80 million Muslims in the valley of Kashmir. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, although left Kashmir too late as fourth item in his speech, he was successful in highlighting the manner of RSS politics, their hatred against Muslims and Christians and their desire to regain Hindu supremacy.

It would have helped and been fair, if Prime Minister of Pakistan had a written text and he would not have missed a reference to the plight of Sikhs and Dalits of India. A reference to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar author of constitution of India and a Dalit, who later along with 50,000 (Fifty thousand) of his Dalit community was forced to renounce Hinduism and convert to Buddhism, would have fixed the puzzle for world leaders. A reference to lynching of Muslims for eating or keeping beef would have chilled the blood of beef eaters in the audience.

The speeches made at the 71st, 72nd and 73rd sessions of the UN General Assembly in 2016, 2017 and 2018, were all statements of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The whole country and in particular some disciplines join heads to author these speeches. The authority, experience and knowledge of each item, carried in these speeches depends on these contributing variables. It shows the research and preparedness of the wise people, engaged for the occasion.

There is no doubt that Prime Minister of Pakistan has confidence and ability to engage the opposition. There is no denying the fact that he is human as well. It was not right to let him take the podium without a written script. Even if you do not use the written text, it remains there for you as an insurance. General Assembly is not a no holds barred forum.

Although Prime Minister of Pakistan did his best, yet one cannot rule out the disadvantages of the absence of a written text. On Kashmir he was at his best. His ability to draw parallels and the manner in which he made three demands towards the end were marvellous. He should not have ended his address abruptly but should have qualified the demands. It may be that he left Kashmir too late and the time was not on his side. Kashmir surfaced as a strong segment but it lacked technical input. He had all the time on earth, that is, 50 minutes and 33 seconds.

Although Prime Minister of Pakistan did his best, yet one cannot rule out the disadvantages of the absence of a written text. On Kashmir he was at his best. He should not have ended his address abruptly but should have qualified the demands

There was a need to connect the present address with some demands in particular two main demands made at the 71st and 72nd session of UN General Assembly by Pakistan. The demand of demilitarization and appointment of a UN envoy on Kashmir should have been reiterated.

An opportunity had arisen, where Pakistan could have flagged for the attention of the General Assembly that the present action of Modi Government in Kashmir and the latest build-up of Indian army were a direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 91 of 30 March 1951 and UN Security Council Resolution 47 of 21 April 1948. Government of India through this military build-up has violated Para 2 © (i) (ii) and (iii), of Resolution 47, which sets out the number, behaviour and location of Indian army in the disputed part of Jammu and Kashmir.

The situation had opened a niche for Pakistan to push its proposal of 16 January 1957 of sending a UN force into Kashmir. Pakistan’s proposal has been backed by Australia, Cuba, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and the United States of America in Resolution S/3787 on 14 February 1957. It has been argued at the 773rd meeting of UN Security Council on 20 February 1957 that “sovereignty of India or of Pakistan is not involved in the proposal to send a United Nations force into the state of Jammu and Kashmir for a temporary and limited purpose”. An ideal opportunity to perfect a technical narrative has been missed. It accounts for a lack of consultation with known Kashmiri experts in the field.

Prime Minister of Pakistan carried the trust and views of the people of Kashmir to UN General Assembly. He has asked the people of Azad Kashmir and the Diaspora to postpone their “Azadi March” until he returns from his speech of 27 September 2019 at the UN General Assembly. He should have alerted the UN General Assembly that the people of Azad Kashmir, Diaspora spread all over the world, 2.5 million Kashmiri refugees living in the four provinces of Pakistan and their sympathisers, have decided to take humanitarian aid to their kith and kin placed under curfew for the last 55 days, as provided under Paragraph 12 of UN Security Council Resolution 47.

UN Security Council Resolution 47 guarantees “the freedom of lawful entry and exit” across the cease fire line of a Kashmiri citizen (State Subject). Taking humanitarian assistance or crossing into Indian occupied Kashmir, to find about the welfare of their families, constitutes a ‘lawful entry and exit’. Pakistan has missed a golden opportunity to test and force UN General Assembly to consider the rights guaranteed to Kashmiris under these UN Resolutions.

JKCHR had advised the Prime Minister to add legal punctuation to the ’emotional contours’ of the case presented by the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir. We appreciate the merits of Prime Minister’s commitment and would respectfully add, that the technical imperfection on Kashmir could have been avoided. Pakistan should have prepared a chart like Turkish President Tayyip Erdo?an did on Palestine. Let us remain positive. Modi camp had shame writ on their faces.

The writer is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations