PM discusses anti-Muslim sentiment, Kashmir issue with New Zealand counterpart

Published September 24, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New York on Tuesday. — PM Office
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New York on Tuesday. — PM Office

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday met with his New Zealand counterpart Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and discussed with her the growing issue of anti-Muslim sentiment in the world.

The meeting took place in New York at the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Both leaders "discussed the challenges of anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia," a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.

The prime minister also briefed PM Ardern on the "plight of Kashmiris and the danger of a massacre" in India-occupied Kashmir, which has entered its 50th day of a total communications blackout.

The communications blockade was enforced prior to the issuance of a presidential decree by Indian Prime MInister Narendra Modi on August 5 to strip the region of its autonomous status.

"Once the curfew is lifted, a big crisis will ensue," the statement quoted the premier as saying to PM Ardern.

According to the statement, the prime minister also appreciated the New Zealand premier's "leadership after the attacks on the mosques in her country".

Ardern has been praised globally for reaching out to the local Muslim community following the horrific attack, which she has termed terrorism.

As the days following the attack unfolded, she was photographed wearing a black scarf over her head and hugging members of the Muslim community at a Christchurch refugee centre.

She also vowed to change the country's gun laws, with a ban on semi-automatic and automatic weapons enforced merely a week after the attacks.

The prime minister, a self-appointed ambassador of Kashmiris, is committed to highlighting the Kashmir issue in the world’s parliament, the UN General Assembly, with his trip duly dubbed as 'Mission Kashmir'.

Since his arrival in New York on Saturday, he has apprised world leaders on the worsening situation in the disputed territory.

He has received backing from China, which has promised to support Pakistan on all issues of its core national interest.

On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres highlighted escalating tensions in South Asia — an obvious reference to the current India-Pakistan confrontation over occupied Kashmir — and called for dialogue to resolve the crisis in his opening speech at the UNGA.

The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, during his address, also called for an end to the Kashmir dispute through dialogue between India and Pakistan.

On Monday, in his meeting with the prime minister, US President Donald Trump had once more expressed his readiness to mediate between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue.

"If I can help, I will certainly do that," he had said. "If both (Pakistan and India) want, I am ready, willing and able to do it."

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