Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, in his address at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, called for countering all forms of terrorism, including “Hindutva extremists”.
“Mr president, we must counter all terrorists without discrimination including the rising threat by far-right and fascist groups such as Hindutva-inspired extremists threatening genocide against India’s Muslims and Christians alike,” the premier stated.
He also urged opposition against the root causes of terrorism which according to him included poverty, injustice, foreign occupation and distinguishing genuine freedom struggles from terrorism.
“Pakistan proposes the creation of a committee of the general assembly to oversee the balanced implementation of all four pillars of the global counter-terrorism strategy,” the PM added.
Earlier today, PM Kakar had also warned that the “disgusting reality behind Hindu nationalism politics could ensnare the world in “fires of war”.
His comments come amid the backdrop of an unprecedented flareup of tensions between India and Canada where the latter has accused the former of killing a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil.
During an interview on the sidelines of UNGA, PM Kakar said: “We will raise [the issue] at different forums, not because we want to do any propaganda against India, but because of the disgusting reality hidden behind Hindutva’s political agenda in which fascism and chauvinism are very deeply rooted, it is such a dangerous phenomenon that it can ensnare the whole region and the rest of the world in the fires of war.”
He went on to say, “We will continue playing our role in highlighting that major issue … we will talk about it wherever we get the opportunity.”
The premier said Hindutva politics had affected the region, particularly Balochistan, adding that Pakistan had evidence to support its claims, which included the confession of high-ranking Indian military officer Kulbhushan Jadhav.
“We have been suffering this face and side of India but the problem is that this is hitting Western capitals now,” PM Kakar said.
Pakistan, he continued, would not mock Western countries for not paying heed to the warnings but would instead play a role in ensuring that the danger [of Hindutva] was understood and action was taken to stop it.
The prime minister said the slain Sikh separatist leader was “innocent” and a “martyr”, adding that the murder of an innocent person was a “major crime”.
“India as a state has killed humanity on Canadian soil which cannot be condemned enough.”
‘Rise of political, military blocs’
At the outset of his UNGA address, the premier said world leaders had gathered today at a “tense and pivotal moment in history”, referring to the Russia-Ukraine war and tensions between other global powers.
“We see the rise of old and new military and political blocs … geopolitics is resurging when geoeconomics should have primacy.”
He emphasised that the world could not afford another cold war as there were far greater challenges confronting humans that demanded global cooperation and collective action.
“The world’s economic prospects also appear gloomy, global growth is slow, high interest rates could trigger a recession, a succession of exogenous shocks, Covid, conflict and climate change have devastated economies of many developing countries.
“Many countries of the global south have barely managed to stave off defaults, poverty and hunger have grown, reversing development gains of three decades,” PM Kakar added.
He recalled that far-reaching commitments were made to implement sustainable development goals (SDGs) during the climate summit yesterday and called for the realisation of these commitments through the “rechanneling of unused special drawing rights for development and resolution of debt problems of 59 countries in debt distress”.
He also stated that Pakistan looked forward to fulfilling the climate change commitments made at COP28 by the developed world to provide over $100bn in annual climate finance, allocate at least half of such finance for adaptation in developing countries, operationalise the fund for loss and damage and accelerate carbon emission.
“Pakistan’s triple food finance fuel challenge is a prime illustration of the impact of Covid conflict and climate on developing countries,” the prime minister highlighted, adding that the country was one of the worst affected countries by the impact of climate change.
The premier lamented that last year’s “epic floods” had submerged one-third of the country, killed 1,700 people, displaced over eight million people, destroyed vital infrastructure, destroyed vital infrastructure and caused over $30 billion in damage to the economy.
“We are gratified by the commitment of over $10.5bn for Pakistan’s comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction with resilience.
“Specific projects are being submitted to ensure timely funding and execution of the 4RF funding and I hope our development partners will accord priority to the allocation of funds for our recovery plan which costs $13bn,” he said.
PM Kakar further assured that the Pakistani government was committed to rapid economic recovery, stability of forex reserves and currency, expansion of domestic revenues and mobilisation of significant domestic and external investment.
During his address, the premier stressed that Pakistan desired peaceful relations with all the countries, including India, but at the same time highlighted that the Kashmir issue was key to peace between the two South Asian nations.
Acknowledging that the Kashmir dispute was among the oldest issues on the UNSC agenda, he noted that India had evaded implementation of UN resolutions that call for the final disposition of the region through a plebiscite.
PM Kakar recalled that since August 2019, India had deployed 900,000 forces in occupied Kashmir, imposed lockdowns and curfews, jailed hundreds of leaders, resorted to extrajudicial killings and destroyed entire villages.
“The UNSC must secure implementation of its resolution on Kashmir, the UN military observer group should be reinforced and global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer for mutual restraint on strategic and conventional routes,” he demanded.
Peace in Afghanistan
PM Kakar also stated that peace in Afghanistan was imperative for Pakistan.
“We advocate continued humanitarian assistance to a destitute Afghan population in which girls and women are most vulnerable as well as revival of the Afghan economy and implementation of connectivity projects with Central Asia,” he stressed.
The premier further mentioned that Pakistan’s first priority was to prevent and counter all terrorism from and inside Afghanistan.
“Pakistan condemns cross-border terrorist attacks against Pakistan by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Daesh and other groups operating from Afghanistan.
“We have sought Kabul’s support and cooperation to prevent these attacks. however, we are also taking necessary measures to end this externally encouraged terrorism,” he said.
Towards the end of his speech, the premier highlighted the need to cherish and celebrate diversity and different ways of life, mutual respect, sanctity of religious symbols and scriptures and personages.
“The narratives advocating a clash of civilisations have done considerable harm to humanity’s progress. Such ideas have bred extremism, hatred and religious intolerance, including Islamophobia.
“Make no mistake; it is a latent threat that undermines millennia of progress. We need to cherish and celebrate our diversity and different ways of life,” he said.
While Islamophobia was an age-old phenomenon, PM Kakar recalled that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “it had assumed epidemic proportions, as manifested in the negative profiling of Muslims; and attacks on Islamic sites and symbols, such as the recent public burnings of the Holy Quran”.
He said the general assembly had adopted a resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, last year declaring March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
“Earlier this year, the Human Rights Council adopted an OIC resolution submitted by Pakistan, urging states to outlaw the burning of the Holy Quran and similar provocations.
“We welcome the legislation initiated by Denmark and contemplated by Sweden towards this end. Pakistan and the OIC countries will propose further steps to combat Islamophobia, including the appointment of a special envoy, creation of an Islamophobia data centre, legal assistance to victims and an accountability process to punish Islamophobic crimes,” he added.