Unlike Khan, Modi substantiated his assertion that "India is a great example of a vibrant democracy,” by adding that “The strength of our democracy is demonstrated by the fact that a little boy, who once helped his father at a tea stall in India, is today addressing the UNGA for the fourth time as Prime Minister of India."
By Farooq Wani,
Since Pakistan has always used the United Nations General Assembly [UNGA] forum to spew vitriol against India and so no one was surprised when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan named India more than a dozen times in his pre-recorded speech aired at the 76th session of UNGA. Neither did the allegations levelled by Khan against India arouse much interest as it was the same old story-that the present government in New Delhi was “fascist”; it was propagating “hate-filled Hindutva ideology [that] has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community” and responsible for “gross and systematic violations of human rights.”
As was expected, he dwelt at length on Kashmir. He brought up the issue of Article 370 abrogation once again, calling it “illegal”, but since he failed to quote any legal clauses to substantiate his allegation, his claim found no resonance within the international community and even the media. He also spoke about what he referred to as “gross and systematic violations of human rights” by Indian security forces in Kashmir and cited the dossier containing details of such incidents that Pakistan had circulated. However, since Khan did not substantiate his litany of allegations with any credible evidence, neither the international community nor the media took serious note of the same
In sharp contrast to Khan’s tirade, his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi didn’t even mention Pakistan once during his UNGA address. Instead by saying that “When India grows, the world grows. When India reforms, the world transforms,” he made Indians proud by making it clear to the international community that the world’s largest democracy was flourishing and had made its mark in global affairs. Unlike Khan, Modi substantiated his assertion that “India is a great example of a vibrant democracy,” by adding that “The strength of our democracy is demonstrated by the fact that a little boy, who once helped his father at a tea stall in India, is today addressing the UNGA for the fourth time as Prime Minister of India.”
Modi also emphasised that “We also need to ensure that no country tries to take advantage of the delicate situation in Afghanistan and use it for its own selfish interests,” and this suggestion was very well received as it’s an issue that’s worrying the international community. At the same time, by adding that “At this time, the people of Afghanistan, women and children, the minorities there, need help, and we must fulfil our responsibility,” he showed compassion for the hapless Afghans thus making it clear that the people of Afghanistan shouldn’t be punished for the wrongdoings of the Taliban regime.
While Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi or his diplomatic team at UNGA couldn’t refer to any authoritative endorsement of its claims, the Indian side had a lot to say about how New Delhi’s views were affirmed by Washington. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the media that “In all the meetings the Prime Minister had, beginning with US leadership, there was a suo moto recognition of the concerns that Pakistan represents as a country that has in many senses both supported and nurtured cross-border militancy, including in Afghanistan and from Afghanistan.”
While replying to Khan’s misleading statement on Kashmir, the Indian side made it clear that the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, including “areas that are under illegal occupation of Pakistan were, are and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India.” India went a step further by saying, “We call upon Pakistan to immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation.”
Modi also spoke out against excessive exploitation by emphasising that resources available in the oceans are meant to be used and not abused. Simultaneously, he advocated free passage by saying that “Our oceans are also the lifeline of international trade. We must protect them from the race for expansion. The international community must speak in one voice to strengthen a rule-based world order.”
There’s much debate in the media on who won the Indo-Pak battle of words at UNGA and the scales clearly tip in favour of Modi, because while Khan’s UNGA speech was more of a list of complaints against India and the US, the Indian Prime Minister addressed issues that had global implications.
(The author is Editor Brighter Kashmir, TV Commentator, Political Analyst and Columnist. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)