It’s often said that Pakistan negotiates with a gun to its head. On Friday, Pak PM Imran Khan did precisely that at the UN General Assembly where, in an address lasting nearly an hour, he demanded that the UN resolutions on Kashmir be implemented and threatened nuclear war with India in the context of Kashmir.
In contrast, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address was short, no more than 12 to 15 minutes, where he chose to focus on the steps being taken by his government for India’s development in various sectors. There was mention of climate change, connectivity, cleanliness campaign, housing for the poor and so on.
Pakistan did not find mention in PM’s Modi’s address but his allusion to that country forcing four wars on India was unmistakable when he 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”.
He made the point that terrorism was not just India’s fight. “We believe this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity.”
He referred to Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Tamil poet Kariyan Pungundranar in his speech. The message of truth and non-violence remains relevant for the world’s peace and progress, he underscored, reminding world leaders that at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda had conveyed the message of harmony and peace, not dissension.
Imran Khan stayed true to a long Pakistani tradition, calling upon the UN to intervene in Kashmir. Rather dramatically, he warned of a bloodbath and raised the spectre of a nuclear war between the neighbours. “This is one of the most critical times. Pakistan will be blamed should something happen. Two nuclear-armed neighbours went head to head in February. And this is why the UN has a responsibility,” he said.
He launched personal attacks on Modi and the RSS and accused the Indian government of trying to push Pakistan into the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force. The Pak PM’s address also covered Islamophobia, radicalisation and climate change.