PM Modi talks peace, Imran Khan warns of war

Age Correspondent With Agency Inputs

World, Americas

Imperative that world unites against terror: PM; Imran highlights Kashmir.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday. (Photo: AP)

New Delhi/New York: At the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, where India and Pakistan were locked in a diplomatic face-off on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without once mentioning Pakistan, asked the world to unite against terrorism for the sake of peace. But Prime Minister Imran Khan minced no words and spoke in detail of the Indian government’s oppression of Kashmiris and warned the world of a “bloodbath” when curfew is lifted in J&K.

Addressing (UNGA) with “seriousness and outrage”, Mr Modi asked the international community to stand united against terrorism, which he said was one of the biggest challenges facing the entire world and not just a single country.

Mr Khan, on the other hand, warned the UN in stark terms of a “bloodbath” in Kashmir, even invoking the possibility that its dispute with India could escalate into an all-out nuclear war.

PM Modi spoke before Mr Khan but did not explicitly mention either the Kashmir issue or Pakistan.

Projecting an inclusive, fast-developing, spiritual and peaceful India, PM Modi said, “We belong to a country that has given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace. And that is the reason why our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and outrage.

“And that is why, for the sake of humanity, I firmly believe, that it is absolutely imperative that the world unites against terrorism, and that the world stands as one against terrorism,” he asserted in his nearly 18-minute address to the world body.

But Mr Modi rued the fact that there was lack of unanimity among member countries on how to tackle terrorism. “The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism dents those very principles which are the basis for the creation of the UN,” he said.

Upping the ante on Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “Has PM Modi thought what would happen when curfew in Kashmir is lifted? Do you think people in Kashmir would accept that you have withdrawn the special status? Thousands of children in Kashmir have been put under detention. They, too, will come out on the streets after curfew in the state is lifted and the Army will shoot them.”

“There are 900,000 troops there, they haven’t come to, as Narendra Modi says — for the prosperity of Kashmir... These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do when people come out? There will be a bloodbath,” the Pakistan PM told the UNGA in New York. He added that there could be a repeat of the fighting between the nuclear-armed neighbours seen in February if India blamed Pakistan for any home-grown militant attacks in response to repression in the Muslim-majority state.

“If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice: Either you surrender, or you fight for your freedom till death?” Mr Khan asked. “What will we do? I ask myself these questions. We will fight... and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far Modi talks peace, Imran warns of war  beyond the borders,” he warned in his 45-minute long speech.

PM Modi also referred to Swami Vivekananda’s historic address at the convention of Parliament of Religions in Chicago and asserted that India’s message to the global community remained the message of harmony and peace that the spiritual guru gave in 1893. “One hundred and twenty-five years ago, the great spiritual guru Swami Vivekananda gave this message to the world during the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago — the message was harmony and peace. And not dissension. Today, the message from the world’s largest democracy, for the international community is still the same: harmony and peace,” he said.

Mr Khan said, “I have friends in India and I love going to India. So when my party came to power, we reached out to India and (said) let’s resolve differences through trade… Modi said there were terrorist attacks from Pakistan. We said well we have attacks in Balochistan from your end. Unfortunately we didn’t make any headway... Meanwhile a 20-year-old Kashmiri boy blew himself up at the Indian convoy. And India blamed us. We told him (Modi) if you have an iota of proof send it. They bombed us (instead), and we retaliated. We immediately returned the (captured Indian) pilot, saying that we do not want an escalation. Rather than taking that as a peace gesture, (Modi claimed that) he had taught Pakistan a lesson; that their jets had killed 350 terrorists. Complete lies. They just killed 10 trees of ours which was quite painful given that we are growing all these trees.”

According to a report in Dawn newspaper, in his speech Pakistan PM pointed out that Mr Modi’s entire election campaign revolved around an anti-Pakistan narrative: “In his election campaign, Mr Modi used words like ‘This is just a trailer. The movie is about to start’ and ‘I went into Pakistan and taught them a lesson’.”

“That’s when we realised that there was an agenda and that agenda became obvious on the 5th of August when India went against 11 United Nations Security Council resolutions which say that Kashmir is a disputed territory and the people of Kashmir have the right of self-determination,” he said.

“They went against the Simla Accord — which is about sorting out our differences through bilateral means. They actually went against the Indian Constitution. Illegally, they revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status,” Mr Khan said and added that the answer to how anyone can do something like this lies in the RSS ideology followed by Mr Modi. “Now I must explain what RSS is. Modi is a life member (of RSS). It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race. They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. They believe a golden age of Hindu rule was stopped by Muslims and then the British occupation. What kind of people bring in 900,000 troops for eight million people? These are human beings,” said Mr Khan to applause from the audience.

“What comes with Aryan superiority is arrogance and it makes people commit mistakes and do stupid, cruel things... It is arrogance that has blinded Modi. Has he thought about what will happen after the curfew in Kashmir is lifted? What will he do? Does he think the people of Kashmir will quietly accept the status quo?”

Pointing out that even pro-India politicians in Kashmir have been detained as part of the crackdown, apart from 13,000 boys who were picked up and taken to unknown locations, he said, “What will the people do then? (They will) take to the streets. The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns. And so Kashmiris will be further radicalised. There will be another Pulwama. And they (India) will blame us. They are already blaming us. They said we have 500 terrorists lined up to go in. Why would we send 500 terrorists when there are 900,000 troops? There will only be further cruelty on Kashmiris. It will give them the excuse to chant on the mantra of Islamic terrorism. The whole world then turns away… What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck? Are we children of a lesser God?”

“I have pictured myself locked up for 55 days… Would I want to let this humiliation continue? I would pick up a gun,” Mr Khan said.

India will exercise the right to reply option at the UNGA to respond to Mr Khan’s speech.

In his speech, Mr Modi also made a strong pitch for a permanent seat at the UN.

Speaking of India’s track-record, PM Modi said the largest number of supreme sacrifices made by soldiers of any country for UN peacekeeping missions is from India.
 
“Three thousand years ago, a great poet of India, Kaniyan Pungundranar wrote in Tamil, the most ancient language of the world, ‘Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelirwhich’. It means, ‘We belong to all places, and to everyone’. This sense of belonging beyond borders, is unique to India,” Mr Modi said. That the PM picked a Tamil poet to quote is being seen in the context of the ongoing language debate in India. Pungundranar was an influential Tamil philosopher from the Sangam period.    

He also said that India is one of the leading nations in the fight against climate change, though its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is “very low” as he elaborated on the steps taken by his government to fight climate change. “On one hand we are working towards achieving the target of 450 giga watts of renewable energy, and on the other we have also taken the initiative to create the International Solar Alliance,” he said.

“In view of this, India has initiated the formation of the ‘Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure’ (CDRI). This coalition will help build infrastructure which can withstand natural disasters,” PM Modi said. “The very core of our approach is public welfare through public participation and this public welfare is not just for India but for the entire world,” Mr Modi said.

For long, India has been calling for reform of the UN Security Council along with Brazil, Germany and Japan. The four countries support each others’ bids for permanent seats in the top UN body. “In this new era, we have to give new energy and direction to multilateralism and the United Nations,” PM Modi said.

In 1996, India had proposed a draft document on the “Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism” (CCIT) at the General Assembly, but it remains a blueprint as the member states were unable to reach a consensus. The CCIT intends to criminalise all forms of terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms and safe havens.   

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