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Wednesday October 27, 2021

PM’s speech

September 26, 2021

In his speech over video link to the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan made several important points. First of all, he has called for recognition for the Afghan government so that assistance reaches the Afghan people, and the country does not once again become a safe haven for terrorists. Certainly, there is a danger of this happening if there is no connection between Afghanistan and the outside world. At the same time the country needs help, so its people do not suffer any longer and have access to funds which can purchase for them the means that would allow them to live stable lives. With all that though is also the question of whether this is even possible in a situation where there is so much concern about human rights abuses in the country. While Pakistan has limited influence in Afghanistan, it along with other countries in the region and beyond, should work towards persuading the Taliban government to first of all ensure that all groups of people are protected under humanitarian norms, and that there is eventually some move towards allowing the Afghan people to themselves determine who they wish to see in government and how they wish to see their future. Today Afghanistan is essentially once again denied democracy, as has been the case for decades, and this in itself is a problem.

The prime minister also spoke of Islamophobia and the need to combat this. He is correct in this; more people in recent years have been killed in the West by white supremacists rather than by groups or individuals linked to Islam. Islamophobia does need to end so that a way can be found for all people to live together and work together. There is a need to encourage this and to end the perceptions about Islam we currently see prevailing around the world. Governments such as those in Afghanistan, which clearly say they wish to set up an Islamic Emirate in the country, can help achieve this by showing the true face of Islam and the humanitarianism and compassion it can offer people. This must come in the form of ensuring rights for girls and women, including the right to education, which has been threatened in the country. Islam encourages education for all and gives enormous rights to women. These must be respected, as should rights for minorities.

Imran also spoke of Kashmir. And this, of course, is an issue that the UN and the rest of the world need to take up extremely seriously. The people of Indian occupied Kashmir have suffered far too long. And along with their sufferings, come the pogroms we see in Assam and may see in the future in other places if India's current dispensation is to continue. Kashmir needs help. Kashmir needs democracy, Kashmir needs to give its people the right to determine their future. The UN and the world must work for this and also work for a global order that allows basic humanitarian rights to all people no matter where they live, what their gender is, what they believe in, and what they do as far as their day to day lives go.