PM Imran meets US envoy Khalilzad, Senator Graham in New York

Published September 22, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan holding a discussion with United States special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad in New York on Sunday. — PM Office
Prime Minister Imran Khan holding a discussion with United States special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad in New York on Sunday. — PM Office

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in New York to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Sunday met with the United States special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, among several other high profile individuals.

According to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Khalilzad shared with the premier "how far his negotiations with the Taliban had gone, the nature of the talks and what expectations he holds in the future".

"So he presented his entire analysis of the US-Taliban talks," he added.

Qureshi's remarks came as he held a media conference following the inauguration of the press room at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, ahead of the General Assembly debate opening Monday.

At the inauguration, Qureshi briefed the press about the Prime Minister's other engagements for the day and the delegation's efforts to raise the issue of Kashmir with various international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the International Red Cross.

The foreign minister spoke of the prime minister's meeting with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who he said was one of four senators who had written to US President Donald Trump to call to his attention the "worrying situation" in India-occupied Kashmir.

"We thanked him for taking on the responsibility to raise his voice for the unarmed Kashmiris who are now in the 48th day of a day-and-night curfew imposed on them with their fundamental rights snatched away," said Qureshi.

He added that the Pakistani delegation had requested Senator Graham to continue to raise his voice and told him that the US Congress can play an important role in this.

"Many senators and members of Congress have played their role and we believe the more they step forward, the better the chance of relief for Kashmiris being secured, as the American Congress has much weight behind their words and actions," said the foreign minister.

He said that the premier also met George Soros, the philanthropist behind the Open Society Foundation.

Qureshi said that during the meeting, they discussed OSF's efforts to provide quality education in Afghanistan and both parties had expressed interest in the organisation coming to Pakistan and working under the same mandate.

In addition, he said they had also discussed OSF's expertise in tax and reform, which is something the prime minister is specifically interested in. He said OSF had agreed that they would send experts to Pakistan to look at the tax system and make suggestions for reform.

OSF was among the international organisations banned in Pakistan in 2017.

Addressing a question about this, the foreign minister explained that they had not fulfilled the registration requirements last time which is why they had not been given a licence to operate in the country. He also said Pakistan had asked OSF to fulfil all requirements this time and if they did so, they would be allowed to function in the country.

Earlier in the day, the premier met Amnesty International Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo and discussed the worsening human rights situation in occupied Kashmir with him.

"Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International , called on the PM and discussed worsening human rights situation in IOJ&K as a result of an excruciating clampdown by Indian occupying authorities," read a tweet by the Foreign Office.

Later on Sunday, the prime minister was expected to hold multiple meetings with representatives from various organisations as well.

One such meeting was with the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer.

Besides the above, meetings with the chief executive of Uber, a delegation of Kashmiri leaders and a group of Sikh community members were also scheduled.

On Saturday the premier had met with the founder the Kashmir Study Group Farooq Kathwari.

The premier had asked Kathwari to continue informing the world about India's illegal occupation and human rights violations in occupied Kashmir so that they could see the real face of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, said a press release by the PM's media team.

Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the founder the Kashmir Study Group Farooq Kathwari on Saturday. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the founder the Kashmir Study Group Farooq Kathwari on Saturday. — Photo courtesy Radio Pakistan

Foreign Minister Qureshi, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Naeemul Haque, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan and other senior officials took part in the meeting.

Prime Minister Imran is due to address the UN General Assembly on September 27. He has already announced that he will highlight the Kashmir issue in his address, exposing the ethical and legal bankruptcy of India’s August 5 annexation of occupied Kashmir.

The prime minister arrived in New York over the weekend, giving him time to consult with Pakistani diplomats and prominent members of the Pakistani American community before meeting world leaders.

Ambassador Lodhi said that this is a "mission Kashmir" for the prime minister and for Pakistan.

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran is expected to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His first official engagement at the UN is a meeting with China's Vice President Wang Qishan.

Read: Trump, Imran to meet on 23rd, talks to focus on Kashmir

The same day, the premier will also meet US President Donald Trump, in what is expected to be the first of his two meetings with the American leader.

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