Modi, Imran at UN General Assembly

Anil Anand
It is often that international meets like the UN General Assembly session provide an opportunity to the leaders of even the warring nations to exchange the ice-breaking smiles if not a meeting on the sidelines. But the UN session of September- 2019 turned out to be a different ballgame for obvious reasons.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan attended the session and expectedly neither exchanged pleasantries nor was any attempt over sideline meeting. As the session took place in the backdrop of partial abrogation of Article 370 that provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan took as some kind of a personal umbrage though it being an internal matter of India, it was expected that Khan would rake the ‘K’ (Kashmir) factor to the highest decibel levels without caring to use the opportunity to connect himself and his country with important international issues.
Their, Modi’s and Khan’s, respective addresses to the UN general assembly went on expected lines. In fact the two speeches proved to be a study in contrast in every respect. Given the fact that India has occupied the centrestage in the comity of nations and there could not have been a better platform than UN general assembly to cement this position.
Prime Minister Modi seized this opportunity with both hands with more focus on his persona than anything else. Already on a high after the success of the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, wherein American President in a rare gesture shared the platform with him, Modi sprang many surprises as he finished his address within the stipulated 15-minutes time allotted to every speaker to address the session as against his now customary one-hour long address Adhering to the time-frame was perhaps part of the well-thought of plan and strategy that his programme managers dutifully follow. Probably it was done to give a strong impression Modi being a stickler for rules.
It was quite in contrast to what Khan, who followed Modi, did by stretching his speech beyond the stipulated time. And what he said and did was unstatesman-like and deplorable.
Comparison is not a healthy trend and needs to be avoided at every level and in every aspect of life. But the manner in which Khan spoke frittering the opportunity to connect Pakistan with important international issues such as challenges posed by environment degradation, it has automatically led to a Modi versus Khan comparison.
There is no doubt India carried the show and rightly too. Despite Pakistan being the central theme of ruling BJP’s nationalism-centric political strategy, Modi did well by ignoring Pakistan and spoke in broader terms about the dangers being posed by the various manifestations of terrorism with only impliedly hinting at Pakistan’s contribution in spreading this menace. Modi justifiably stated that the world has to come together if the terrorism in its all forms is to be defeated the line which his predecessors including Atal Behari Vajpayee had been following in the past.
His punch line, “hum uss desh ke hain jisne duniya to yudh nahin Buddh diya hai” (we belong to the country which has given to the world not war by Buddha) convincingly conveyed what India stands and has been firmly believing in over the centuries.
He touched upon various other challenges faced by the world and in particular those on the environmental front. In this regard, he elaborated on the efforts undertaken by India on various fronts to check environmental degradation. This was the occasion to rise and India did it with honours.
Contrast it with what Khan did to himself and his country. To be fair to him he started on a good note while trying to clarify certain misconceptions which he felt some quarters of the world had or were creating about Islam leading to unrest among its followers and taking up arms, and the need for the world to desist from linking any religion with terrorism. But soon he shifted gears for the worst. From there on it was only Kashmir which consumed most of his address time.
He thundered but without any volt, he warned and threatened not only without any rhyme and reason but without any logic. So there was no question that his rabble-rousing would have won him any support or accolades. Of course and expectedly, the only cheers he received were from the Pakistan officials present in the session.
What began for Khan with a thunder ended in a whimper? He could muster the support of barely two Islamic countries namely Turkey and Malaysia and of course it’s all weather friend China.
It was an occasion for Khan to make a common cause with the comity of nations but he preferred to plough a lonely furrow and get isolated in the process. The dye for Pakistan’s total isolation on international scene had already been caste and visible during the course of Khan’s joint media-briefing with US President Donald Trump. Once a trusted ally of Pakistan, US did not register favourably any Islamabad snipe aimed at India particularly with respect to Jammu and Kashmir. It is another matter White House will not ditch Pakistan in the long run, for its strategic interests and it will be a folly to think so.
The happenings in the media briefing which was held before the UN General Assembly session, should have given Pakistan enough hints as to how the world including its friends such as USA are viewing the current situation. Under the circumstances, rather than carefully crafting his strategy Khan chose to go into a misadventure mode.
He fretted and fumed to the utter amusement of the world. He talked of bloodshed in Kashmir and did not leave it at that. What followed was threat of a nuclear war between the two countries armed with nuclear weapons. He did not leave it at that only warning India but extended it further. In came the warning that in the event of a conflict between two nuclear weapons possessing countries, the damages would be worldwide.
Clearly, there were no takers for all this.
Coming back to developments related to partial abrogation of Article 370. It is an internal matter of India. There are issues concerning all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir state- namely Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. And there are concerns which need to be addressed.
The prevailing situation of logjam particularly in Kashmir and partially in Jammu needs to be resolved and restrictions lifted at the earliest. The resolution is necessary not only to ensure internal peace but it is needed to checkmate Pakistan’s mischief creating potential. And more so it needs to be done before the currently favourably international opinion turns against India.


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