PTI Protests HR Abuses in Pakistan as Kakar Highlights Terrorism, Hindutva, Kashmir at UN

By A Correspondent
Caretaker prime minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on September 22.
Two Pakistans were at play inside and outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Friday, September 22. Inside the General Assembly hall, caretaker prime minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar was telling the world that since August 2019, India had deployed 900,000 forces in occupied Kashmir, imposed lockdowns and curfews, jailed hundreds of leaders, resorted to extrajudicial killings and destroyed entire villages.

“The UNSC must secure implementation of its resolution on Kashmir, the UN military observer group should be reinforced and global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer for mutual restraint on strategic and conventional routes,” he demanded.

A few hundred yards away from the UN stage Kakar was using to win international support over Kashmir, hundreds of his own countrymen were staging a noisy protest against his speech, the brutal crackdown on political dissent, enforced disappearances and arrest of thousands of political workers in Pakistan under his watch. Time magazine, in a scathing report published on September 22 said Pakistani government had arrested more than 13,000 supporters of former prime minister and main opposition leader Imran Khan.

“The puppet who has been sent (to the UNGA) is now calling Pakistan as Israel of China. He is comparing Pakistan with Israel. This means that some other conspiracy is being hatched,” Shahbaz Gill, a confidant of Khan and a senior leader of his PTI, told the cheering crowd. He was referring to prime minister Kakar’s remarks equating Pakistan’s relations with China with those between Israel and the United States, during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations a day earlier on September 21.

Prime minister Kakar in his speech at the UN called for countering all forms of terrorism, including “Hindutva extremists”.

“Mr president, we must counter all terrorists without discrimination including the rising threat by far-right and fascist groups such as Hindutva-inspired extremists threatening genocide against India’s Muslims and Christians alike,” the premier stated.

He also urged opposition against the root causes of terrorism which according to him included poverty, injustice, foreign occupation and distinguishing genuine freedom struggles from terrorism.

“Pakistan proposes the creation of a committee of the general assembly to oversee the balanced implementation of all four pillars of the global counter-terrorism strategy,” he added. His scripted speech that he forcefully read out had all the essentials of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Outside the UN building PTI supporters were joined by a sizable number of Bangladeshis as well. Waving Bangladesh’s flag, Khan’s Bangladeshi supporters condemned the Pakistan state’s crackdown. Khan is hugely popular in the US-based Bangladeshi community. The protesters, holding placards inscribed with pro-Khan slogans, pictures of Imran Riaz Khan and Arshad Sharif, raised slogans in support of Imran Khan and condemned the state’s crackdown on PTI.

Gill in his brief speech told PTI supporters that Pakistan was facing multiple challenges, including high inflation, unemployment, lawlessness and General (Retd) Qamar Bajwa’s conspiracy to bring down Imran Khan’s democratically elected government, and deteriorating law and order situation. He also highlighted the worst human rights situation, shrinking civil liberties and freedom of press. He mentioned the murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya and forced disappearance of another journalist Imran Riaz Khan and demanded his immediate release. The protesters had travelled from different parts of New York City, other states and Canada. Local PTI leaders Amjad Nawaz and Khawar Beg played key role in organizing the protest.

At the UN, prime minister Kakar in his wide ranging speech touched the key components of Pakistan’s foreign policy, including the cross-border terrorist attacks against Pakistan by Afghanistan-based TTP; the Palestine tragedy; the threat posed by far-right groups like Hindutva-inspired extremists; Islamophobia; global economic crises stemming from Covid, conflict and climate change; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Pakistan’s efforts to recover from its economic challenges, and the UNSC reform.

The most striking aspect of Kakar’s speech was that it had no reference to holding of free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan, a job he has been entrusted with. He had no words of assurance to the world about the future of democracy in Pakistan. He also did not mention any progress Pakistan has made in its war on poverty, progress on economic revival, respect for human rights and nurturing overall political stability.

Read full text of the speech at this link

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