NEW YORK    -   With Kashmir high on his agenda, Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in New York Saturday to lead the Pakistan delegation to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where he will enunciate Islamabad’s position on key global and regional issues before one of the largest gatherings of leaders from around the world.

He was received at New York’s Kennedy international airport by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan, and officials of the Pakistan Mission to the UN and the consulate general here.

The prime minister was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Hafeez Shaikh, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.

Imran Khan will go through a tight schedule during his seven-day visit, holding several bilateral meetings with his counterparts, including US President Donald Trump, and participating in high-level UN summits on climate change, sustainable development, universal health coverage and financing for development.

He is set to specifically focus on the deteriorating situation in the occupied Kashmir, particularly the grave violations of human rights take place there, since August 5 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved to annex the disputed state. The territory continues to be under military siege with telephone and internet connections cut off, and thousands of Kashmiri people languishing in jails, and their leaders under detention.In Saudi Arabia, where he was on a visit before coming to New York, the prime minister expressed deep concern over the plight of the Kashmiri people, and said he would raise the Kashmir issue forcefully at the United Nations.

He is expected to make a clarion call on the international community and the United Nations to live up to their promise of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

During his visit, the prime minister will also attend and speak at high-level side events co-hosted by Pakistan and Turkey on countering hate speech, and on environmental protection and poverty alleviation, co-hosted by Malaysia and Pakistan. A trilateral summit meeting of Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey will be held on the General Assembly session’s sidelines.

Apart from these engagements, the prime minister will interact with international media outlets, including meetings with editorial boards. Speaking engagements at leading think-tanks, including the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society, and meetings with heads of major international human rights organisations are on his schedule.

The prime minister will deliver his address to the 193-member Assembly on Friday, September 27, sharing Pakistan’s perspective and position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and its current human rights and related dimensions. He will also avail the opportunity to articulate Pakistan’s perspective on some key contemporary issues. Overall, the centrality of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be emphasised through myriad of engagements.

Pakistan has always been a strong advocate of and one of the leading contributors to the United Nations work in the areas of peace, security and development, a statement from the Prime Minister House in Islamabad pointed out. “The prime minister’s visit will further reinforce Pakistan’s abiding commitment to the UN Charter, international law and cooperative multilateralism, with the UN at its core,” it said.

Imran Khan will join a galaxy of leaders from around the world on Tuesday when the UN General Assembly begins its annual debate to discuss issues of  peace and security, with Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi saying that the Pakistani leader will be on ‘Mission Kashmir’ in New York.

“His focus will obviously be Kashmir and he will highlight the plight of the Kashmiri people who continue to suffer a suffocating lockdown and a brutal occupation,” she said in an interview ahead of PM Khan’s arrival.

“Prime minister Khan will be the voice of the Kashmiri people at the UN,” Ambassador Lodhi declared. “His visit has already aroused great interest among the international community and the media,” she added.