Imran says a destabilised,
chaotic Afghanistan may
again be safe terror haven

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NEW YORK: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said a “destabilized, chaotic Afghanistan” could again emerge as a safe haven for international terrorists and called for measures to strengthen and stabilize its current government for the “people of Afghanistan.”

Addressing the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Prime Minister said a huge humanitarian crisis was looming ahead which could have serious repercussions not just for the neighbours of Afghanistan but everywhere.

“This is a critical time for Afghanistan … You cannot waste time. Help is needed there. Humanitarian assistance has to be given there immediately,” Prime Minister Imran Khan told the gathering of leaders.

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Friday evening.

In a pre-recorded video address, the Prime Minister spoke at length about the major global issues including; Afghanistan, gross human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, “hate-filled ‘Hindutva’ ideology,” Islamophobia, Climate Change and Corruption.

The United States had requested member states to send pre-recorded messages as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus. However, 83 heads of state, 43 prime ministers, three deputy prime ministers and 23 foreign ministers are addressing the General Assembly in person.

Afghanistan issue:

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan was the only country apart from Afghanistan, that suffered the most from the US War on Terror after 9/11 and dismissed the notion by some that his country had any part to play in the turn of recent events in Afghanistan.

Pakistan delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, just before Prime Minister Imran Khan’s pre-recorded address. United Nations, New York

“80,000 Pakistanis died. US 150 billion dollars were lost to our economy. There were 3.5 million [temporarily] internally displaced Pakistanis,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the United States went wrong when it tried to force a military solution in Afghanistan.

“And if today, the world needs to know why the Taliban are back in power, all it has to do is to do a deep analysis of why a 300,000 strong well equipp

“Amongst those Mujahideen groups were Al-Qaeda, [and] various groups from all over the world.”

He asked the world body to recall when President Ronald Regan invited the mujahideen to the White House in 1983 and the newspapers reported that he compared them to “the founding fathers of the United States. They were heroes.”

However in 1989, the Soviets left, followed by the Americans, and Afghanistan was abandoned and Pakistan was left to fend with five million Afghan refugees, Imran Khan said.

“We were left with sectarian militant groups which never existed before. But the worse cut of it was, that a year later Pakistan was sanctioned by the US. We felt used.”

The Prime Minister said Pakistan was again needed by the US after 9/11 as the US-led coalition was invading Afghanistan, and it could not happen without Pakistan providing all the logistical support.

Kashmir issue:

Prime Minister Imran Khan referring to the decades-old lingering dispute of Kashmir and the reign of terror unleashed against the innocent Kashmiris, said India’s actions in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir amounted to “war crimes” and the “crimes against humanity” and regretted the world’s “selective” approach to protect its corporate interests.

“It is unfortunate, very unfortunate, that the world’s approach to violations of human rights lacks even-handedness, and even is selective,” the prime minister said.

Imran Khan said India was violating the international human rights laws including the 4th Geneva Convention and pointed that “geopolitical considerations and corporate interests” had compelled the major powers to overlook the transgressions of their “affiliated” countries.

“Such double standards are the most glaring in [the] case of India, where this RSS-BJP regime is being allowed to get away with human rights abuses with complete impunity,” he said.

Imran Khan said India had undertaken a series of illegal and unilateral measures in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, 2019.

He mentioned that India had unleashed a reign of terror by an occupation force of 900,000, jailed senior Kashmiri leadership and imposed a clampdown on media and the internet.

He pointed to the abduction of 13,000 young Kashmiris, extra-judicial killing of hundreds of innocent Kashmiris in fake “encounters” and collective punishments by destroying entire neighbourhoods and villages, which he added had become a norm.

The prime minister said Pakistan had unveiled a detailed dossier on gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Indian security forces in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“This repression is accompanied by illegal efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, and transform it from a Muslim majority into a Muslim minority,” he said.

Indian actions violate the resolutions of the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir.

Khan said the resolutions clearly prescribed that the “final disposition” of the disputed territory should be decided by its people, through a free and impartial plebiscite held under the UN auspices.

The prime minister recalled that the most recent example of Indian barbarity was the forcible snatching of the mortal remains of the great Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani from his family, denying him a proper Islamic funeral and burial.

“Devoid of any legal or moral sanction, this action was even against the basic norms of human decency,” he said.

He called upon this General Assembly to demand that Syed Geelani’s mortal remains be allowed to be buried in the “cemetery of martyrs” with the appropriate Islamic rites.

Imran Khan said the onus remained on India to create a conducive environment for meaningful and result-oriented engagement with Pakistan.

For this, he said, India must “reverse its unilateral and illegal measures instituted since August 5, 2019”.

He asked India to stop its oppression and human rights violations against the people of Kashmir and reverse the demographic changes in the occupied territory.

He drew the attention of the global community towards India’s massive military buildup with nuclear weapons, saying the situation could “erode mutual deterrence” with Pakistan.

“India’s military build-up, development of advanced nuclear weapons, and acquisition of destabilising conventional capabilities can erode mutual deterrence between the two countries,” he said.

The prime minister said it was “essential to prevent another conflict between Pakistan and India”.

He said Pakistan desired peace with India as with all its neighbours, however, stressed that sustainable peace in South Asia was contingent upon resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

He recalled that Pakistan reaffirmed the 2003 ceasefire understanding along the Line of Control with a “hope that it would lead to a rethink of the strategy in New Delhi

Islamophobia issue

Prime Minister Imran called for collective efforts to fight the emerging threat of terrorism in the form of Islamophobia and urged a global dialogue to counter its rise while promoting interfaith harmony.

“The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy has recognized these emerging threats … We hope the Secretary-General’s report will focus on these new threats of terrorism posed by Islamophobes and right-wing extremists,” he said.

“The worst and most pervasive form of Islamophobia now rules India,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said.

He said the hate-filled ‘Hindutva’ ideology, propagated by the fascist RSS-BJP regime, has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community.

“Mob lynching by cow vigilantes; frequent pogroms, such as the one in New Delhi last year; discriminatory citizenship laws to purge India of Muslims; and a campaign to destroy mosques across India and obliterate its Muslim heritage and history, are all part of this criminal enterprise.”

The Prime Minister called on the Secretary-General to convene a global dialogue on countering the rise of Islamophobia. “Our parallel efforts, at the same time, should be to promote interfaith harmony, and they should continue.”

He described Islamophobia as another “pernicious phenomenon that we all need to collectively combat” and said in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, terrorism has been associated with Islam by some quarters. He said Islamophobia has increased the tendency of right-wing, xenophobic and violent nationalists, extremists and terrorist groups to target Muslims.

Corruption issue

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his wide-ranging address also raised the critical issue of “illicit financial flows” from the developing countries to “haven destinations” and said because of this plunder by corrupt ruling elites, the gap between the rich and the poor countries were increasing at an alarming speed.

“Through this platform, I have been drawing the world’s attention towards the scourge of illicit financial flows from developing countries,” Imran Khan said and mentioned that the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) has calculated that a staggering seven trillion dollars in stolen assets were parked in the financial “haven” destinations.

“This organized theft and illegal transfer of assets have profound consequences for the developing nations,” he pointed and added that the practice “depletes their already meagre resources, accentuates the levels of poverty, especially when laundered money puts pressure on the currency and leads to its devaluation.”

At the current rate, when the FACTI Panel estimates that a trillion-dollar every year were taken out of the developing world, there would be a mass exodus of economic migrants towards the richer nations, he warned.

“What the East India Company did to India, the crooked ruling elites are doing to developing world – plundering the wealth and transferring to western capitals and offshore tax havens,” the Prime Minister said.

Climate Change issue

Referring to one of the primary existential threats of Climate change that the planet faces today, the Prime Minister said, Pakistan’s contribution to global emissions was negligible.

“Yet we are among the 10 most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change in the world.”

Being fully aware of global responsibilities, the Prime Minister said Pakistan has embarked upon game-changing environmental programmes. These he pointed include; reforesting Pakistan through 10 billion tree tsunami; preserving natural habitats; switching to renewable energy; removing pollution from cities; and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Covid19 issue

The Prime Minister said the world was facing the triple challenge of Covid-19, the accompanying economic crisis, and the threats posed by climate change. The virus, he said, does not discriminate between nations and people. Nor do catastrophes imposed by uncertain weather patterns.

The common threats faced not only expose the fragility of the international system; they also underscore the oneness of humanity.

The Prime Minister who began his address by reciting “إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ” – “You alone we worship; and upon You, we call for help” said that by the grace of Almighty Allah, Pakistan has been successful in containing the Covid19 pandemic.

“Our calibrated strategy of ‘smart lockdowns’ helped save lives and livelihoods and kept the economy afloat. Over 15 million families survived through our social protection programme of Ehsaas,” the Prime Minister said.