Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the 75th session of the UN General Assembly strengthened his credentials as a global statesman who was deeply concerned about the issues which were affecting peace and security on the regional and global levels, as well as those that posed a threat to human existence on earth and the likely destructive impact of the emergence of supremacist ideology, which he thought required collective action by the world community spearheaded by the UN. His focus on Islamophobia, climate change, money laundering, the plight of minorities in India, the Kashmir dispute and the Palestine problem, the need for debt relief for developing countries by rich nations and international lending bodies to offset the adverse impact of COVID-19, all have enough global implications to earn him that epithet.

His remarks about flouting of the objectives and principles of the UN Charter and the re-emergence of big power rivalries reflected his genuine concern about the state of affairs in the world which demanded immediate action. He said “This is also a time for us to reflect whether as the United Nations we have been able to realise the promise we collectively made to our peoples. Today, the foundations of the ‘world order’—non-use of or threat of unilateral force, self-determination of peoples, the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, international cooperation—all these ideals are being systematically eroded. International agreements are being flouted and set aside. Renewed great-power rivalries are leading to a new arms race. Conflicts are proliferating and intensifying. Military occupation and illegal annexations are suppressing the rights of human beings to self-determination.”

His exhaustive discourse on Islamophobia was indeed very thought provoking which underlined an imperative need for checking this phenomenon in its tracks before it could produce disastrous results. The world saw the ugliest face of this phenomenon in New Zealand last year when an Australian national massacred 50 Muslims in three mosques in Christchurch. The emergence of far-right parties in some European countries and growing incidents of violence against the Muslim diaspora are strong warning signs about the consequences that it could have for the societies where it is raising its ugly head as well as in destroying inter-faith harmony. As reported in the media, a long-standing member of the far-right Alternative for Deutschland political party has been sacked amid reports of his inflammatory comments in which he allegedly said refugees and migrants could be ‘gassed’. This kind of thinking and mindset could spell disaster for the world like it did when Hitler practiced it as a state policy.

Prime Minister Imran Khan was very candid and realistic about his remarks, that while the hate against Muslims in European countries was an act of individuals and groups of individuals in certain cases, the only state which was currently pursuing this course as a state policy was India under the BJP regime. He qualified his contention with irrefutable evidence about the actions taken by the Modi regime to marginalised Muslims in India through controversial legislative measures, the massacre of Muslims carried out under the approving nod of the government, the illegal actions of the BJP regime in regards to ending the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir, its annexation to the Indian Union in contravention of the UNSC resolutions followed by the promulgation of a new domicile law designed to changed demographic realities in brazen contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention.

He also dwelt at length on the inhuman actions of the BJP regime to suppress the freedom struggle in IIO&JK and keeping the valley under siege since August 5, 2019. He was right on the money to contend that all these actions and the belligerent posture adopted by India towards Pakistan had endangered peace and security in the region and military confrontation between nuclear states could have unthinkable consequences. His appeal to the UNSC to take action in regards to its resolutions on Kashmir was a timely reminder to the world body of its obligations to ward-off the dangers lurking on the horizon due to the pursuance of the RSS ideology of Hindutva by India. He suggested the right remedy to tackle this problem by saying, “We stress that wilful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be universally outlawed. This Assembly should declare an ‘International Day to Combat Islamophobia’ and build a coalition to fight this scourge—scourge that splits humanity.”

His discourse on the impact of COVID -19 globally and the need for a collective approach to deal with it is hard to contest. He was right in saying that the pandemic has illustrated oneness of the global community as it has impacted almost all the countries of the world. He rightly pleaded for greater debt relief by the rich nations to the poor and developing countries to provide fiscal space to them to overcome the adverse impact of COVID-19. The pandemic is probably going to last for a long time. He acknowledged the relief already given by G-20 and lending institutions but rightly observed that it needed to be extended and expanded.

He was right on the money in urging the world community to ensure implementation of the existing anti-money laundering regimes, as the phenomenon was resulting in the transfer of illegal money from the poor to developing countries, with all the adverse financial and political implications, more so with respect to harmony among the nations of the world.

His observations on the impact of climate change and the prevalent state of affairs were beyond reproach, particularly his remark that instead of bringing the world community together it had created fissures among it. While recounting the steps taken by Pakistan to mitigate the impact of climate change through an ambitious plantation of 10 billion trees, he rightly urged the international community to abide by the protocols signed on the issue to stave off the biggest threat to human existence.

While dwelling on global issues, he was not unaware of the need to apprise the world about the contribution that Pakistan had made in promoting reconciliation in Afghanistan, the thrust of foreign policy of the country and his vision about how he perceived to restructure Pakistan. This is what he said, “Since my government assumed office, our consistent effort has been to fundamentally transform Pakistan. We envisage ‘Naya Pakistan’ to be modelled on the principles of the state of Madinah, established by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); a just and humane society where all government policies are directed at lifting our citizens out of poverty and creating a just and equitable dispensation. To achieve this goal, we need to have peace and stability. Thus, our foreign policy aims to have peace with our neighbours and settle disputes through dialogue.” Few would contest his observations on global issues and the suggested remedies as well as his futuristic vision about Pakistan.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at ashpak10@gmail.com.