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Foreign Minister arrives in New York for United Nations General Assembly Session

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The foreign minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, left for New York on Saturday the 22nd of September to attend the 73rd session of the United Nations’ General Assembly. The foreign secretary of Pakistan, Tehmina Janjua, also accompanied him to the UNGA. The Pakistani delegation will focus on the importance of political solutions for regional peace and stability and increasing violence against civilians in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

FM is expected to address the contact group of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation on the issue of Kashmir on the sidelines of the General Assembly on September 26.  He will also be speaking at the Asia Society and interact with American Academics, foreign policy experts and students of 28th September.

The government of India fails to realize that merely sprinkling a few billion dollars for ‘development’ will not heal the effects of decades of political disenfranchisement that Kashmiris in IOK have from.

In his speech in the General Assembly, Qureshi will delineate the new government priorities and policies on regional and international issues, including peace in Afghanistan and the grave situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, on September 29. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi will meet his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington on October 2 to reset relations between two countries.

He will also attend several high-level events and hold 20 bilateral meetings with his counterparts from around the world, tweeted Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador at the UN.

After the UNGA, he will address the Pakistani community in Washington. Violent clashes between the Indian Armed Forces and unarmed protestors have not abetted, despite tall claims by the leadership in New Delhi. In May of this year, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, ‘development is the solution’ in Kashmir. The government of India fails to realize that merely sprinkling a few billion dollars for ‘development’ will not heal the effects of decades of political disenfranchisement that Kashmiris in IOK have from. Nearly 20 innocent civilians were killed at the beginning of April in Kashmir.

Towards the middle of the month, a video emerged of a Kashmiri man tied to an Indian Army jeep’s engine. The purpose was ostensibly to use the man as a human shield in order to deter protestors from throwing stones. In May, violence ratcheted up again, despite calls for a ceasefire. The cycle continues even as the UN General Assembly goes into session. Nearly 600,000 troops are said to be stationed in Indian Occupied Kashmir, making it the world’s largest military bunker. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) allows and emboldens security personnel to use excessive force on unarmed civilians with impunity.

Read more: Qureshi-Pompeo meeting for a “Reset” & Indian strategy

Reports of torture, rape, forced disappearances, and fake encounters continuously leak out, despite the attempts by the government to block and censor media. The Pakistani foreign minister will most likely shed light on these human rights violations and implore the international community to not ignore the voice of Kashmiris any longer. The UNGA is a chance for diplomats from countries having troubled relations to begin anew and move forward with talks. The foreign office of Pakistan made such overtures towards India. In a carefully worded letter, Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted that India and Pakistan had an ‘undeniably challenging relationship’ but Pakistan was willing to discuss all outstanding issues.

Beijing and Washington appreciated this gesture by the government of Pakistan. New Delhi, however, refused to hold talks as violence surged in Kashmir again. Delhi holds Islamabad responsible for its failure to emancipate and enfranchize Kashmiri citizens. Some political analysts have argued that India was ready for talks only if Pakistan didn’t bring up Kashmir at the UNGA. What is perhaps most shocking is the way the Indian Army chief threatened Pakistan after the offering of peace talks by the new government in Islamabad. Today, the Army Chief Bipin Rawat said, ‘need another surgical strike’.

The General Debate will last for 9 working days, beginning Tuesday the 25th of September. World leaders from the 193 UN member states will present their stance on a wide range of issues covered by the UN Charter.

The ‘surgical strike’ is a reference to the claims made by Indian security forces that they were able to penetrate a couple of miles into Pakistani territory and inflict loss of life on Pakistani armed forces, safely retreating subsequently. Many experts have questioned the veracity of these claims, citing various problems of morale, food and equipment shortages faced by Armed forces of India.

How will history look back upon this missed opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue via serious dialogue? The new government in Islamabad had the political capital to go forward with talks. That may not be the case a few years down the road. As the UN General Assembly kicks off in New York, the foreign minister of Pakistan is expected to forcefully present Pakistan’s case in light of recent developments.

73rd Session of United Nation General Assembly

The 73rd UNGA session opened on the 18th of September, 2018 and was scheduled to last for about two weeks days. This couple of weeks is packed with various high-level events. According to the UNGA guide, there were nearly 313 events categorized into ‘issues’ such as health, tuberculosis, youth leadership, conflict and migration and more. The various events are meant to bring together business leaders, top government officials, entrepreneurs etc. who share their experience in tackling related problems and present and discuss new and innovative solutions.

Read more: Hope for peace talks tumble as India calls off UNGA meeting

This year, the government of Norway along with UNICEF and the World Food Programme will participate in a session titled ‘Big Data for Better Lives’. Similarly, the UN World Health Organization has organized a high-level meeting on the fight to end Tuberculosis. According to the President-elect of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the theme of the general debate will be, ‘Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies’. The General Debate will last for 9 working days, beginning Tuesday the 25th of September. World leaders from the 193 UN member states will present their stance on a wide range of issues covered by the UN Charter.


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