By Sher Bano 16 October 2020
On 25th September 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan virtually addressed the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Similar to his last year’s address at the UNGA 74th session, this has been a strong projection of Pakistan’s appropriate diplomatic discourse on the Kashmir issue given the increased Indian belligerence. The Prime Minister has utilized this opportunity to expose the fascist ideology of Mr. Modi led BJP government’s continued atrocities and brutalities in the Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir in front of the international community. In his address, he urged the international community to play its role to stop the oppression of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian state. Likewise, he has also emphasized the investigation of the grave human rights violations by the Indian forces that are involved in state terrorism. Key international countries especially the US have lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts for peace. By doing so, Prime Minister Imran Khan has increased his diplomatic stature and his willingness to solve this long-standing issue.
Exposing the RSS inspired “Hindutva” ideology of the BJP government has been one of the key agendas of his address. The Indian government has turned the whole valley into the largest prison in the world. He exposed that the real objective of BJP and RSS behind their brutal campaign against Kashmiris would likely change the demographic structure of this disputed region through the systematic marginalization of the Muslims. Highlighting the impacts of the global pandemic COVID-19, he said that though it was an opportunity to bring humanity together, it has increased global tensions and fanned nationalism. This has led to religious and racial hatred against vulnerable minorities in different places. This is further evident from the very fact that Muslims in India were blamed for spreading the coronavirus and were deprived of medical treatment. He further elaborated that such trends have also given rise to Islam phobia. In this regard, India is the only country in the world that has state-sponsored Islam phobia originated from the RSS ideology. Unfortunately, in India, the dream of creating a Hindu Rashtra has replaced the secularism of Nehru and Gandhi.
Recalling the events of the past, he said that in 1992 Babri Mosque was demolished by the RSS, Muslims were slaughtered in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi was the chief minister there, and in 2007 RSS arsonists burnt alive nearly 50 Muslims aboard the ‘Samjhota Express’. Quite recently, over 2 million Muslims in Assam were stripped of their nationality by the adoption of the discriminatory law. He said that such events of the past have made it further evidence that the Hindutva ideology is all about marginalizing nearly 300 million Muslims of India. Fearing the sensitivity of the situation in Kashmir, Prime Minister Kashmir has rightly called it a ‘Nuclear flashpoint’. There cannot be a durable peace in South Asia until the Kashmir issue is resolved through international legitimacy. He further argued that to prevent the disastrous conflict, the UNSC must ensure the implementation of its resolutions like it did in the case of East Timor. He added that apart from the enforcement actions it must take steps to protect the innocent Kashmiris from an impending Indian genocide. The attempt of obliterating the Kashmiri identity is not only a violation of the UN charter but also a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. It is a war crime to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory by the Indian government.
To further analyze, in state-sponsored Islam-phobia, as in India’s case, the state utilizes its maximum resources to suppress the Muslim population. In such a system, even the law and justice system support the government against the Muslims. That is how the Indian government has been spreading hatred against Muslims by using its machinery. In various statements by the Indian statesmen, Muslims have been perceived as aliens and they try to inculcate Hindu nationalism into the consciousness of the Hindu nation. Similarly, through inhumane censorship by the Indian state in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, India is trying to suppress the voice of innocent Kashmiris. This has been done by a complete communication lockdown to ensure that Kashmiri Muslims do not utter a word against Indian atrocities at any national or international forum. All these belligerent practices show that the BJP’s extremist government in India is using Islam-phobia to keep Muslims on the periphery and maintain its monopoly. This fascist propaganda is spreading rapidly like a pathogen that would lead towards the marginalization of millions of Muslims even more. The skepticism on India’s claim of secularism and the largest democracy of the world has become more validated. This is primarily because of the overriding fascist regime tendencies and agendas of Hindu supremacy. All these factors combined have been responsible for the perpetuation of religious intolerance and Islam-phobia, especially in recent years.
Summarizing it all, Prime Minister Imran Khan has effectively used the UN platform to expedite his diplomatic efforts to make the world aware of ongoing Indian atrocities in the occupied Jammu Kashmir. These have been further helpful in explaining the real agenda of BJP behind this illegal occupation. It was a great opportunity for him to urge the international community to take punitive action against the war crimes being committed by India. By doing so, he has brought the Kashmir issue as one of the top agenda items of the UNGA 75th session. Furthermore, it has appeared to be the right time to put pressure on India to stop genocide, state terrorism, and bloodshed of the oppressed people of Kashmir. The security environment in South Asia has become more complex especially since the year 2019. This has reduced the chances of one-on-one interaction of leaders of both the countries at the sidelines of such multilateral meetings. At the present, a strong diplomatic discourse at the international forums like the UNGA seems to a plausible way out to voice against the genocide being carried out by the RSS backed BJP government of India. Even last year after the address of PM Imran Khan at the UNGA 74th session, the US President Donald Trump had reasserted his concern over the situation of Kashmir. This has served as an acknowledgment of Pakistan’s principled diplomatic stance over Kashmir.
The writer is working as a Research Affiliate at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), a non-partisan think-tank based out of Islamabad, Pakistan.