Pakistan’s prime minister talks Kashmir, floods at UN - GulfToday

Pakistan’s prime minister talks Kashmir, floods at UN


Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif speaks at UN headquarters on Friday in New York City. AFP

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif appealed for a peaceful end to the dispute over Kashmir and deplored regional instability, invoking the perennial themes of Pakistan's UN addresses after dedicating the first half of his speech Friday to the ravages of recent floods.

The flood-induced devastation, which Sharif described in biblical terms, means it's incumbent on Pakistan to "ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of poverty and hunger," he said.

But in order to do so, Sharif said, Pakistan needs a "stable external environment” — that means peace in South Asia, which he said hinges on a resolution of the decadeslong dispute over Jammu and Kashmir.


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"At the heart of this longstanding dispute lies the denial of the inalienable right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination,” Sharif said, outlining what he called India's "relentless campaign of repression” and "serial brutalization” of Kashmiris.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and has been claimed by both since they won independence from the British empire 75 years ago.

Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif speaks at UN in New York City. AFP

Sharif accused India of its own colonial ambitions by trying to change Kashmir's demographics from majority Muslim to majority Hindu. While he described Islamophobia as "a global phenomenon,” he specifically accused India's Hindu nationalist government of engaging in "the worst manifestation of Islamophobia.”

India — which has said Kashmir is an internal matter and one of law and order — is scheduled to speak at the General Assembly on Saturday. Rights groups have accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing party of looking the other way and sometimes enabling hate speech against Muslims. Modi’s party denies the accusations, but India’s Muslims say attacks against them and their faith have increased sharply.

The two South Asian nations lobbed barbs past one another later in the night, each invoking the right of reply. An Indian diplomat shot back at Sharif by accusing the prime minister of seeking to "obfuscate misdeeds in his own country and to justify actions against India that the world considers unacceptable."

During his afternoon speech, Sharif also spoke at length about regional instability and terrorism — of which he called Pakistan "the principal victim.”

He presented a marked contrast from his flashy yet conservative predecessor, Imran Khan, who dedicated much of last year's speech to accusing the United States of victimising Pakistan. Khan was ousted in April after losing a no-confidence vote.

Dressed in a sober business suit instead of Khan's favoured waistcoat-and-salwar-kameez combination, Sharif didn't once mention the United States by name.

Associated Press


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