Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25th. Although it was a recorded address, the magnitude of triumph of his speech can be gauged from the fact that it has been viewed the most by global audience. The Pakistani premier’s speech has received 898,401 views, whereas Indian Prime Minister’s and the US President’s live speeches have received 413,310 and 137,043 respectively as of September 29.
The Pakistani head of government addressed a range of issues during his speech. From the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic crisis to climate change, from the stolen wealth of developing nations to Islamophobia, Indian atrocities in Kashmir and the prevalent situation in Afghanistan were all touched upon adequately, efficiently and effectively by the PTI stalwart.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its induced economic crisis has adversely affected the global economy, disrupting supply chains and leading to a boom in commodity prices worldwide. The boom in commodity prices, especially oil prices, has led to soaring global inflation levels. The Pakistani head of government pointed out the vulnerability and fragility of the global economic system during his address. “The common threats faced by us today not only expose the fragility of the international system; they also underscore the oneness of humanity,” Imran Khan stated.
The PTI supremo highlighted Pakistan’s successful handling of the pandemic through smart lockdowns and Ehsaas social security programme. Through the Ehsaas social security programme – an economic stimulus package – PKR.1, 240 billion was disbursed among citizens of the economically vulnerable strata of Pakistani society. “Over 15 million families survived through our social protection programme of Ehsaas,” hailed Khan.
Climate change has transpired into a potent existential threat to the world that we live in. Pakistan, according to the Global Climate Risk index, was ranked as the fifth most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change back in early 2020. Pakistan’s head of government outlined that despite negligible contribution to global emissions, Pakistan is among the 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change. “Being fully aware of our global responsibilities, we have embarked on game-changing environmental programmes; reforesting Pakistan through our 10 billion tree tsunami; preserving natural habitats; switching to renewable energy; removing pollution from our cities and adapting to the impacts of climate change,” Imran Khan told the UN General Assembly.
The Pakistani leader called for formulating a comprehensive strategy that includes vaccine equity, adequate financing to developing countries and clear investment strategies that help eradicate poverty, ensure job creation, build infrastructure and bridge the digital divide, to tackle the triple challenge of COVID-19, economic recession and climate change.
Furthermore, the grave issue of stolen wealth was brought up by the cricketer turned politician. He quoted that UN Secretary General’s high level panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) panel had calculated that an astonishing amount of $7 trillion are kept in financial haven destinations. The world cup winning captain stated the consequences of this organized theft on the economic health of developing nations – erosion of already limited resources, increased levels of poverty and currency devaluation – and called for the general assembly to take meaningful steps to address this situation. He further compared the corrupt elite of the developing countries to the East India Company.
Prime Minister Khan brought attention to the issue of Islamophobia which has the potential to affect not only inter-faith harmony across the globe, but also the relations of nation-states. He took a jab at the BJP government in India and condemned them for ‘unleashing a reign of fear and violence against the 200 million strong Muslim community in their country’.
Moreover, he criticized the illegal actions of the Indian government in Jammu and Kashmir and called out the ‘fascist RSS-BJP regime’ for snatching the remains of the great Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Gillani. He called on the General Assembly to demand that Syed Ali Shah Gillani’s mortal remains be allowed to be be buried in the cemetery of martyrs.
He termed the double standards of the global community – most glaring in the case of India – in their approach to human rights violations as “very unfortunate”. Furthermore, he exprerssed his desire of peace with India and also put forward his demands through which the first step towards a meaningful solution of the outstanding issues – especially Kashmir issue – is possible. “Pakistan desires peace with India, as with all its neighbours. But sustainable peace in South Asia is contingent upon the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” informed PM Khan.
The situation in Afghanistan is precarious, unstable and volatile. Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the global community not to neglect Afghanistan as an economic and humanitarian catastrophe looms ahead for the war torn country. “There is a huge humanitarian crisis looming ahead. And this will have serious repercussions not just for the neighbours of Afghanistan but everywhere. A destabilized, chaotic Afghanistan will again become a safe haven for international terrorists – the reason why the US came to Afghanistan in the first place” warned the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister effectively addressed Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices pertaining first to the Soviet occupation, and then with US war on terror in Afghanistan. He admonished those blaming Pakistan for the failure of the US led coalition forces in Afghanistan and asked them to critically analyze the failures of their strategy. “And unfortunately, in trying to force a military solution is where the US went wrong. 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 equipped Afghan army – and remember Afghans are one of the bravest nations on earth – gave up without a fight. The moment a deep analysis of this is done, the world would know why the Taliban came back to power and it is not because of Pakistan,” he pointed out.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was criticized by many journalists and political leaders for wrongly referencing President Ronald Reagan’s comparison of the mujahideen to the founding fathers of the United States. What President Regan actually said in an address at an annual dinner of the Conservative Political Action Conference was, “They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance.”