What Kashmiris think about Imran Khan’s upcoming UNGA address

With September 27, when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the United Nations General Assembly, nearing, people in the Valley are a divided lot as to expectations from his address

Pakistan PM Imran Khan is scheduled to address UNGA on Sep 27 (Photo courtesy: Social media). 
Pakistan PM Imran Khan is scheduled to address UNGA on Sep 27 (Photo courtesy: Social media).

Gulzar Bhat

The Pakistani media, quoting their Foreign Office statement, has recently said, "The prime minister will deliver his address to the UNGA September 27, and share Pakistan’s perspective and position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and its current human rights and related dimensions".

Curious residents across the alleys of Kashmir are discussing the possible outcome. While some are hopeful that Khan could draw the attention of world's largest deliberative body towards the current crisis in Kashmir, there are people who believe that nothing will change. However, they too are on the edge of their seats.

"Khan, more often than not, has raised the Kashmir issue on international forums. We are very hopeful that this time around he will also nail the lies that New Delhi and the government’s loyal media are peddling about normalcy in the Valley", said Mohammad Ashraf, a resident of Srinagar's Rambagh area.

He said that at least the world should get to know how the world's largest democracy had been treating people it considers its own citizens. Many people in the area echoed more or less the same view.

Syed Bilal, a student who is up to speed on national and international political developments, said that the UN must play a role in defusing the current crisis in the Valley.

"The international community must reprimand both India and Pakistan for playing dirty politics over Kashmir and take a call on the issue," he added.

Since August 5, Kashmir is under lockdown, following the scrapping of the special position of the state. More than 4000 people including three former chief ministers of the state have been reportedly jailed.

A band of people discussing the issue in front of downed shutters in Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar were sceptical about Khan pulling it off at the UNGA.

"We have pinned false hopes on the UN. Rights are being violated on both sides of the LoC. India is more important for major powers than Pakistan, given its vast markets," said Ahmad, adding that Pakistan has never been able to convince the world about Kashmir.

Pakistan at the UN in recent years:

After the street protests in the Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in 2016, who reignited indigenous militancy in Kashmir, Pakistan was more vocal in the UNGA than ever.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the bogey of rights violations in Kashmir at the world forum. Nawaz called upon the international community to fullfil its promise about giving "right to self-determination" to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

In 2017, Pakistan was much embarrassed at the UN after its permanent representative Maleha Lodhi held up a photograph of a girl with her face wounded, considering it as an evidence of India's brutality in Kashmir. The photograph later turned out to be that of a Palestinian girl.

In 2018, addressing the 73rd session of the UNGA, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the unresolved Kashmir issue posed a great threat to peace and stability in the region.

"India must stop human rights violations in Kashmir and also stop ceasefire violations across the line of control," Qureshi had said.

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Published: 22 Sep 2019, 7:13 PM