Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi delivered a wide ranging speech to the United Nations clarifying his country’s position on key issues including its burgeoning partnership with China, its desire to bring “hostile” India to the peace table and explanatory warnings against false US assumptions about Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism, specifically as it relates to the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Prime Minister began his speech by praising the United Nations for preventing large scale wars from breaking out. However, in a statement alluding to the United States and its allies, Abbasi lamented that “some countries have shown a proclivity to use force against (other) states to settle differences”.
He also warned against building walls against the Islamic world, both in a physical and meteorically sense. This could easily be interpreted as a reference to Donald Trump’s plans to build a controversial border wall between the US and Mexico as well as Donald Trump’s occasionally Modi like defamation of Islam.
After warning of a new Cold War in Europe and conflicts raging from South East Asia to the Middle East, Abbasi turned to specific issues facing Pakistan.
Jammu and Kashmir
The Pakistani Premier stated that “India brutally suppresses Jammu and Kashmir” and in so doing, is engaged in one of the most prolonged illegal military occupations in modern history.
Abbasi stated that from Pakistan’s inception as a nation 70 years ago, it has faced hostility from India. Because of India’s intransigence on the Kashmir issue, Abbasi called on the UN Security Council to aid the people of Jammu and Kashmir in realising their democratic right to self-determination and their day to day desire to live free from military occupation.
In spite of multiple attempts on Pakistan’s part to bring India to the bilateral negotiating table, Abbasi said the India’s refusals means that it is of the utmost importance for the UN to bring about a resolution to the situation.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called on India to “stop the use of rape as an instrument of state policy”. This is a clear reference to the rape epidemic which has raged in India, particularly against minorities since the electoral victory of the BJP lead by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Premier further stated that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are merely a deterrent to Indian aggression and that Pakistan seeks to maintain its nuclear arsenal only as a deterrent to what Abbasi characterised as an unpredictable and aggressive Indian regime.
Turning to Afghanistan, Abbasi proclaimed that apart from the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan has suffered more from the series of wars in Afghanistan dating back to the 1970s, than any other country on earth. He stated that the suffering has manifested itself in the form of terrorism, an influx of refugees, an influx of drugs and an influx of weapons upon Pakistan’s territory.
The Premier then remarked that “no one desires peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan”. He then offered an admonishment which directly relates to Donald Trump’s recent criticisms of Pakistan in respect of Afghanistan. Abbasi said,
“Neither the (US led) coalition nor Taliban can impose a military solution on each other”.
Abbasi then called for direct negotiations between the current government in Kabul and Taliban factions as a means to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
Relations with the United States
When US President Trump announced his troop surge in Afghanistan, his remarks at the time heavily criticised Pakistan, accusing Islamabad of harbouring terrorists who destabilise Afghanistan. These remarks were taken as deeply offensive to Pakistan and at the time both Russia and China strongly defended Pakistan’s record of fighting and opposing all forms of local and regional terrorism. China and Russia continue to stand by Pakistan on the whole in respect of its perspective on the crisis in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan’s anti-terrorist credentials cannot be questions….
We took the war to the terrorists and we have paid a heavy price”.
He also said that it is “especially galling to be blamed” for the proliferation of regional terrorism before adding “we are not prepared to be anyone’s scapegoats”.
This latter most statement was clearly directed to anti-Pakistan voices within the United States.
Turning to China, Abbasi stated that China’s President Xi Jinping has clearly articulated the model for economic growth and development that both is appropriate for and embraced by Pakistan.
Saying that eliminating terrorism is vital for Pakistan’s economic future, in words surely crafted to assure China of Pakistan’s commitment to building a stronger, more robust and safer society, Abbasi spoke of Pakistan’s rapid economic growth over the last four years.
The Premier stated that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor has and can further “contribute to our economic upsurge”. He also praised the One Belt–One Road initiative as being particularly crucial and helpful to Pakistan’s future.
After praising Pakistan’s economic partnership with China, Abbasi offered a message of peace and good will to his audience at the United Nations.
This was among the most stridently pro-Chinese and anti-US speeches delivered to the UN by a Pakistani head of government in recent memory.
The overall message was that Pakistan is not prepared to accept the blame for America’s failures in South Asia and Afghanistan specially, nor will Pakistan step back from its pragmatic proposals for a Taliban-Kabul dialogue as the most realistic solution to ending the violence in Afghanistan.
For India the message was clear: unless the BJP government ceases its anti-Muslim and by extrapolation, its anti-Pakistan position, Pakistan will have no choice but to sternly implore international organisations such as the UN to intervene in the ongoing disputes between the neighbouring countries.
Finally, Abbasi made it abundantly clear that Pakistan’s most crucial and fraternal partner in economic development as well as geo-political cooperation is China.
The overall message is clear: India cannot get away with aggression, China is now far more important to Pakistan than the United States and lastly, Islamabad is not prepared to accept unfair and nonfactual insults from the inexperienced Trump administration.