NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan spent the second day of his seven-day visit to the United Nations briefing US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media on the repercussions of the Indian annexation of the disputed Kashmir valley.
The lawmakers who called on the prime minister on Sunday include the US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham.
Both are among the most important lawmakers on Capitol Hill and enjoy considerable influence in their parties. Senator Schumer, a New York Democrat, is known for his interest in human rights issues and can be very helpful in highlighting rights violations in held Kashmir.
Senator Graham, a Republican, is among a handful of lawmakers whom President Donald Trump consults on major issues. Recently, he was twice sent to Pakistan to solicit Islamabad’s support for the Afghan peace process.
In Washington’s diplomatic circles, Senator Graham is often credited for arranging Prime Minister Khan’s July visit to the White House that helped improve strained relations between Washington and Islamabad.
Senator Graham was also among those four US senators who wrote a letter to President Trump last week, asking him to take immediate action to end deepening humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir.
They asked him specifically to put pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lift the curfew imposed on local residents and restore telecommunication services in the disputed territory, among other steps.
Praises Amnesty’s report on held Kashmir; discusses Afghan talks with Khalilzad
President Trump has repeatedly offered to help mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan but has been rebuffed by Mr Modi, who rejects external help in resolving New Delhi’s disputes with Islamabad.
US special envoy for Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad also had a meeting with the prime minister.
In Washington’s diplomatic circles, it’s often acknowledged that there can never be a durable peace in Afghanistan unless relations between India and Pakistan improve. Apparently, this perception is also linked to President Trump’s repeated offer to help reduce India-Pakistan tensions, particularly over Kashmir.
AI report hailed
The prime minister also met Amnesty International’s secretary general Komi Naidoo and discussed with him the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of Aug 5.
“The prime minister appreciated the lead role that Amnesty is playing in presenting the real state of human rights in the occupied territory and amplifying the voices of the Kashmiri population in a state of seven-week-long lockdown,” said a statement issued by the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations.
These efforts have helped raise international community’s awareness about the continuing suffering of the Kashmiri people.
The prime minister lauded Amnesty’s report on the use of pellet guns by India and their devastating impact on Kashmiri youth.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who also attended the meeting, noted that the two UN reports on Kashmir served as a strong basis for continued civil society advocacy in support of the Kashmiri people.
Mr Naidoo briefed the prime minister on Amnesty’s advocacy work on Kashmir including the recently launched “Let-Kashmir-Speak” campaign.
Others on the prime minister’s list included David Fenton and George Soros. Mr Fenton is the chairman and founder of Fenton Communications, which promotes issue-oriented campaigns focusing on environment, public health and human rights.
Mr Soros is an American investor who still has a net worth of $8 billion even though he has donated more than $32bn to his philanthropic agency, Open Society Foundations.
Mr Khan also held meetings with Kashmiri leaders and the leaders of the Sikh community in the United States.
Later, the prime minister gave interview to various US media networks, explaining Pakistan’s concerns on India’s actions in held Kashmir.
He said that if not resolved the Kashmir dispute could lead to a nuclear conflict in South Asia, which would have disastrous consequences for the entire world.
He appealed to the international community help defuse this potentially dangerous situation.
In his meeting with Mr Khalilzad, Prime Minister Khan said that peace in Afghanistan was vital for South Asia’s stability and economic development of the entire region.
He urged all parties involved in the Afghan dispute to play their role for restoring peace to that war-ravaged country.
“Condemning the recent surge of violence in Afghanistan, the prime minister said that peace in Afghanistan is vital to advancing his government’s vision for a peaceful neighborhood and for economic development and regional stability,” said a statement issued by the Pakistan Mission.
“All parties must play their role in strengthening peace and promoting reconciliation as a shared responsibility,” the prime minister added.
Ambassador Khalilzad called on the prime minister at his hotel in New York and the two also talked about the joint efforts that
Afghanistan and Pakistan and the United States were making for bringing peace to Afghanistan.
Mr Khan appreciated Mr Khalilzad’s efforts for promoting a peaceful, political settlement in Afghanistan.
Mr Khan reminded the US envoy that Pakistan always believed that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.
“Pakistan would, therefore, continue to support all initiatives towards achieving a sustainable peace in Afghanistan and hoped for an early resumption of the peace process,” Mr Khan said.
Ambassador Khalilzad appreciated the PM’s support for the Afghan peace process, and said he looked forward to continue working with Pakistan for stability in Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019