South Asian Leaders Attention in the UN General Assembly Expectations & Gains By Ahmad Bhuiyan
There is a ‘Heaven on the earth’; whose snow-capped mountains, floral coating & aesthetic lakes add finest beauty to the travelers. Though it was independent since 1947, after formation of India & Pakistan on the wheels of events, India occupied 45 percent land of Kashmir, named Jammu-Kashmir. Since the constitution of India was introduced in 1950, articles 370 and 35-A were the basis on which it gave Jammu-Kashmir the power to have its own constitution, autonomy& flag itself except policy areas; defense & foreign affairs. As a part of implementing BJP’s master plan, on August 5, 2019, their Government stripped autonomy of this region J & K by revoking articles 370 and 35-A from their constitution. Now, J & K has equal status like other states of India. Since late July, Government deployed additional 50,000 troops. Hours before of revoking status, the valley was brought under strict curfew & blackout. Internet, TV, landline & mobile phone services all were blocked.
Being coveted, India desire Kashmir as their land while Pakistan thinks this Muslim-Majority region is a part of it. Therefore, this radical change waged fire in both of Pakistan & Kashmir as well as initiated a proxy battle. Analyst believed Kashmir to be nuclear battlefield as both of Pakistan and India are powerful in nuclear weapons. UN general assembly took place just a month later while this heated issue arose. Let’s have a look on what happened in Modi & Imran Khan’s US tour and in addressing general assembly;
It was PM Narendra Modi’s fourth visit to the US which kicked off with the event “Howdy Modi” hosted by ‘Texas India Forum’. On September 22, at NRG stadium in Houston, he led the rally along with US President Donald Trump commemorating Indo-American negotiations for easing bilateral trade where 50,000 members of Indian diaspora appeared. PM Modi met Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs and Dawoodi Bohras perhaps, on the context of Article 370 revocation. Little came to the media about their discussion. Apart from round table meeting with CEOs of energy & oil companies, addressing the crowd, Modi defended his government’s role in Kashmir- “change of the status of Jammu and Kashmir will bring economic development and good governance to the region”. Not at all, there worked their long cherished goal.
J & K is coveted to India since long. Kashmir is fertile & bestowed with enormous natural resources. One of greatest tourist attractions in the world, if India can take full of its control, foreign investment & new Hindu employability will mean a lot to their economy and ethnic interest. Moreover, geographically Kashmir is located as a center of 3 conflicting countries; Pakistan, china & India. India’s full control of it will certainly bring strategic backup and close-set trade-route with its adversaries. Terming ”Islamic terrorism & radical Islamist” has been a strong weapon to defeat adversaries regardless whoever are culprit. They didn’t forget to utilize this modern rebuke. Modi said- “the time has come for a decisive fight against terrorism and those who support terrorism”. Trump reciprocates- “We stand proudly in defense of liberty, and we are committed to protecting innocent civilians from radical Islamic terrorism”.
United States & India is a major defense partner for mutual interest and their bilateral trade has been doubled to $142bn in 2018 comparatively to the decade earlier. As presumably, both leaders admired each another in Houston. Trump told Modi “India has never had a better friend as President as President Donald Trump”. Modi’s reaction- “India has a true friend in the White House”. As India and Pakistan talked to the world-leaders forum at the UN General Assembly, thousands of protestors assembled just outside the hall. They made barricades and blockage on the road away from the UN VIP entrance. Muslims, Christians and Sikhs raised voice and signed in support of Kashmir.
Narendra Modi spoke first and mentioned his country’s development achievements and resolution to fight for terrorism (!!). The Indian PM embracing UN climate and environment summit dedicated a large part of his speech where he mentioned India’s contribution to environmental sustainability, such as; campaign to reduce single-use plastic. Throughout his lecture, he neither uttered ‘Kashmir’ nor its context even a single time, is a tactic to get rid of atrocity crimes in northernmost part. Whatever the tactic to getaway, it should be holding Modi accountable for the terrible violation of human rights especially happening in Kashmir and international bodies must resolve this dispute. Later, Imran khan delivered his speech, rhetoric and mind-blowing which attracted the hearts of people. Khan’s this 51 minute lecture even without a note is a benchmark for Pakistanis and Muslim. For which he will remain in the history as a diligent leader of oppressed minorities. He focused mainly on four aspects; Climate Change, Modi Government’s oppression on Kashmir, Money laundering worldwide that cripples developing world and Islamophobia.
On the context of Rohingya Crisis, Khan cited-
“I picture myself. I’m in Kashmir, I have been locked up for 55 days; have heard about rapes, Indian army going into homes, soldiers. Would I want to live this humiliation? Would I want to live like that? I would pick up a gun. You’re forcing people into radicalization”. Imran said “if it continues, rest of the Muslim world might take action that goes to unfavorable situation. What about the 1.3bn Muslims (worldwide) watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims? What do you think they would think?”Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms,” he said. Muslims will become radicals because of this (Indian Oppression), not because of Islam because they see no justice. This is one of the most critical times. There will be a reaction to this and Pakistan will be blamed”. He asked UN to intervene on India’s atrocity in Kashmir, that might provoke nuclear war between two countries and said “Before we head there the UN has a responsibility; this is why the UN came into being in 1945. You were supposed to stop this from happening”. Is the international community going to appease or stand up for justice or humanity? When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders. This is a test of the UN. You are the one who guaranteed the Kashmiris the right (of self-determination). The very first action that India needs to take is to lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir and then release all detained prisoners. And then the world community must give the Kashmiris the right to self-determination”.
On last topic of his speech, he uttered; ”Islamophobia is creating divisions, hijab is becoming a weapon; a woman can take off clothes in a country, but she can’t put on more clothes in another. It started after 9/11 and it started because certain western leaders equated Islam with terrorism. “The basis of all religions is compassion and justice which differentiates us from the animal kingdom”.
“I hear such strange things that Islam is against women and minorities. In the first state of Islam, Medina, the state took responsibility of the weak, taxed the rich, spent money on the poor [and] announced that all human beings come from Adam hence they were equal. That’s all we ask don’t use freedom of speech to cause us pain” he concluded.
Khan’s whole speech met the utmost demand of times, hence imposing & effective. Time will say how it could draw attention of international leaders.
BJP government certainly will be in dock one day as they draft policies and take actions to detriment of Muslim Minorities. On August 31, India has published the final version of a list (National Register of Citizenship) which leaves about 1.9 million people of their citizenship. One-third of Assam’s 32 million residents are Muslims, which is second-highest number after Kashmir. Government says the NRC drive is to trace out illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Today Assam has more than 200 courts, set to justify citizenship .The courts have been accused as biased & opaque. Due to illiteracy, many families couldn’t keep record & so failed to present documents. Mistakes by the authority in spellings of names, voter rolls or ages imposed on people. Amnesty International has termed their work as “shoddy and lackadaisical”.
Detainees are undergoing poor living circumstances and declare as ‘foreigners’ and they have been suffering from depression. Children have also been detained with their parents causing widespread agony & human distress. Analysts fear that these 2 million noncitizen might be made forcibly an influx to neighboring Bangladesh which is very alarming as the land is yet full of burden with Rohingya Refugees.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had a meeting with her Indian counterpart at Lotte New York Palace hotel on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly on September 20, 2019. Their discussion was trivial to the context of NRC and failed to meet the expectations by Bangladeshi and people of Assam.
It was known according to press release; Sheikh Hasina raised the NRC issue in the talks that it has become great concern for us. PM Modi assured her & said “Indian officials would work to resolve the issue and Bangladesh needs not to be worried about it”.
All we know about ‘Xinjian’ concentration camp Of China, where humanity screams deep down to the extensive distress & agony of ‘Uighur’ Muslim minorities they are suffering from. Terming at least 120,000 Uighurs migrant & illegal entrants, Chinese government is inflicting horrific repression on them. Even to their massive atrocity, China harvest human organs in the detention camps. Only Allah knows best whether history repeats in Assam. Little positive can be expected from Modi & BJP alliance who were totally unsupportive in Rohingya Refugee crisis, and yet not by our side to draw international attention and force Myanmar to repatriate those Refugees.
There had been no detailed discussion at the meeting as the two leaders are going to have a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on October 5, 2019. As both prime ministers were in tight schedule in the sideline of general assembly, we hope and urge to have imposing as well as effective discussion on October 5, 2019.
The writer is student of Economics at University of Dhaka.