Khan‘s leading role for regional peace

By Farooq Mirza

Prime Minister Imran Khan has proved himself as a true leader of the whole Muslim Ummah by holding meetings with over 70 global leaders and briefing all of them about the intense situation in Kashmir. He has won hearts acting as Kashmir’s Ambassador in the USA, working as mediator between the US and Taliban and now on a one-day official trip to Iran as part of his “initiative” to promote regional peace trying to ease tensions between Tehran and Riyadh.

Add to this list, his concern for Pakistan and Pakistanis. His visit to China reflected this, where along with Kashmir issue he discussed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the most beneficial project for his country and the region. It is part of a greater, One Road One Belt initiative of the Chinese government that is going to benefit Pakistan. Pakistan and China are now talking about shared vision in future.

Imran Khan’s visit to China took place just two days before the Chinese president’s visit to India? It helped China to assess the situation after the Indian step of unlawfully changing the status of Occupied Kashmir appeared to threaten the Chinese Road and Belt initiative.

There is one huge impediment in achieving this objective, the self-styled Indian dream aimed at full annexation of Kashmir. Ladakh is the region where the Chinese have a claim denied by India. With the abrogation of article 370 and 35{A}, there are implications for China besides Pakistan, which has a claim on the state of Kashmir as a Muslim-majority state. In the light of UN resolution, the Indian government is required to hold a plebiscite in the region under UN supervision. Unfortunately, it is now claiming to be an internal affair of India, which is a violation of UN resolution.

During Imran Khan’s visit China did not mince words while lending support to Pakistan’s core interests. Chinese President Xi Jinping told Prime Minister Imran Khan that China would continue to firmly support Pakistan on issues concerning its core interests and major concerns. He said Beijing was paying close attention to the current situation in Kashmir saying this issue was a dispute left over from history and should be resolved on the basis of the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

The Prime Minister deserves a big ‘thank you’ for creating a strong case for Kashmir in the UN General Assembly. He has cautioned the world that its failure to resolve the Kashmir issue can result in massive devastation. The whole emphasis of the speech was on the need to give the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. According to the Prime Minister, Kashmir was a test for the United Nations to refurbish its credibility by giving rights to the people of the disputed region.

India’s illegal, unjust, merciless seizure of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K) region has been clearly uncovered by Pakistan. It has alerted the international community to the wicked desecrations of international law and Human Rights by Modi. It has highlighted too the dormant dangers creeping around inside IOJ&K’s actually explosive situation as well as the responsibilities and commitments of the UN/UNSC to the inalienable Right to Self Determination of the suffering Kashmiris.  

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 55-minute hard-hitting speech before the 74th UN General Assembly concentrated chiefly on the human rights violations in the IOJ&K, the disappearance and torture of young Kashmiri males i.e. 13,000 at last count, the rape of women, and the lockdown that had made life a living hell for all Kashmiris. He warned of the dangers the situation posed for the two nuclear-armed countries and the world at large. The BBC, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have reported all this. Moreover, there are incriminatory reports from human rights groups in India, and biting condemnation by Indian celebrities like Amartya San and Arundhati Roy. Among those who spoke in favor of Imran’s standpoint on Kashmir and demanded that the Kashmiris be allowed the right of self-determination were China, Turkey and Malaysia

An eager Pakistanis and the Kashmiris waited for days before PM Imran Khan’s maiden speech at the UN General Assembly. It was reported that during and towards the end of speech his eyes were filled with tears. So many others voiced the same sentiment.

The speech was hailed as “historic” by the media houses in Pakistan. From the print media, to the TV channels, to the political leaders and the common man, one and all looked evidently stirred by the speech. The tear-jerking story of the beleaguered Kashmiris facing untold atrocities at the hands of the Indian occupation forces was bound to stimulate the emotions.

Imran Khan’s speech was not a piece of hate-emitting, war-mongering oratory, he was communicating a genuine apprehension, a global unease posed by another fascist Narendra Modi. His arrogance continues persistently pushing Kashmiris to the edge of the precipice. A war between two nuclear powers is very much a likelihood with its immeasurable consequences for the whole world. That is what the PM said and said it with all the seriousness and honesty.

On the US-Taliban conflict, Prime Minister Imran Khan assured his American counterpart the US President Donald Trump that Pakistan “will do everything within its power” to facilitate the process aimed at ending Afghanistan’s nearly 18-year war adding that the world owed it to the people of Afghanistan to bring about peace after four decades of conflict. Afghanistan remained the main point of deliberations held between the Pakistani and US leaderships in Washington, D.C. Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to pursue the Afghan Taliban leadership to initiate talks with the Afghan government. Maximum of US leaders and officials acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the table for talks. The US administration politely requested Pakistan to continue playing a constructive role in the Afghan peace process. Pakistan’s leadership categorically agreed to take up the task.

U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political negotiators arrived in Pakistan amid a renewed diplomatic push to resurrect peace talks between Washington and the insurgent group. These consultations followed discussions held between the United States and Pakistan during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

Although few details of the meeting between peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the movement that was ousted in 2001 by the U.S.-led coalition were disclosed on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the news media, still, the meeting was noteworthy as the United States seeks an exit from what has become its longest military engagement. More than 14,000 U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan and Trump has repeatedly expressed his frustration with their continued deployment, complaining they have taken on the duties of policing the country, a job he said the Afghan government needed to do.

For Pakistan, restoring its relationship with the US is important not only for speeding up economic recovery but also for re-balancing its regional geostrategic position. Pakistan delegation’s visit to the US is bringing the country back onto the regular diplomacy tracks. To keep this momentum, Pakistan has to deliver on Afghanistan, but the US in charge of security there also must assure that no militant plotting from Afghan soil takes place to destabilize this country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is now going for mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. He is scheduled to visit Tehran and Riyadh for meetings with the Iranian and Saudi leadership. Pakistan thinks peace is in regional interest, hence, it desires both the countries should live amicably and should work together for peace. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had during Mr. Khan’s last visit to Saudi Arabia asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran.

Iranians have expressed their readiness to accept the offer, but have made it conditional to the US and other western forces leaving the region. Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has welcomed efforts by intermediaries to arrange talks with Saudi Arabia.

Prime Minister Imran Khan is optimistic about achieving results. Pakistan has good ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pakistan by tradition has robust relationship with Saudi Arabia but also maintains ties with Iran and represents Tehran’s consular interests in the US in the absence of diplomatic relations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan says that U.S. President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran and that he had already spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an attempt to mediate. Imran Khan met with Trump on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. He immediately spoke to President Rouhani after the meeting with President Trump. The prime minister’s effort to promote regional peace must be applauded.

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