At UNGA, PM Imran says 'wilful provocation' to hate should be 'universally outlawed'

Updated 26 Sep 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers virtual address to the UNGA session. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers virtual address to the UNGA session. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday, cautioned against the rising tide of Islamophobia around the world and called upon the United Nations to play its part in combatting religious hatred.


Key points of PM Imran's UNGA address:

  • Rising Islamophobia, especially amid the pandemic

  • Covid-19 pandemic and Pakistan's response

  • Indian aggression in occupied Kashmir and against its minorities

  • Dangers of climate change

  • Palestine issue

  • Economic relief for poor countries particularly affected by the pandemic


In a virtual address, the prime minister lamented that at a time when the global community should have come together to combat the novel coronavirus, it had instead stoked racism and religious hatred. "Unfortunately, it has instead fanned nationalism, increased global tensions and given rise to racial and religious hatred and violence against vulnerable minorities in several places.

Islamophobia was rising in several countries, he said, adding that Muslims were being "targeted with impunity", mosques were being desecrated and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was being insulted "in the name of freedom of speech".

He also talked about the anti-Muslim sentiment in India, which, the prime minister said was "the one country in the world [...] where the state sponsors Islamophobia". He once again told the UNGA about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's Nazi-like "ideology" to seek "racial purity" of Hindus which was ascribed to by the incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party Bharatiya Janata Party.

"We stress that wilful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be universally outlawed," the premier said, adding that the UNGA should "declare an international day to combat Islamophobia".

"We believe that the driving force in international relations must be cooperation in accordance with the principles of international law and not confrontation and force. We all must emphatically reaffirm our support for multilateralism.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the oneness of humanity. No one is safe unless everyone is safe," Prime Minister Imran stated.

The premier also shone a light on Pakistan's efforts to curb the coronavirus and noted that Pakistan's response was recognised as one of the "success stories" in controlling the disease.

"However, we are still not out of the woods like no country is out of the woods today," said Prime Minister Imran, adding that from the outset of the pandemic, developing countries were at a disadvantage due to lack of resources and would require fiscal space to cope with the economic fallout caused by the health crisis.

He recalled that earlier this year, he had called upon developed countries and global financial institutions to provide debt relief to poor countries so they could fight against the virus, and added that further similar measures will be required for developing nations.

He also directed the UNGA's attention towards money laundering and corruption by the elite of developing countries who stash their wealth in tax havens in developed countries and explained how such practices affect the economies of financially-poor nations.

"Since they are beneficiaries, there is a lack of political will in the rich countries to curb this criminal activity," he said, adding that if money launderers continued to be provided with sanctuaries, the gulf between poor and rich countries will continue to grow and would lead to "a far bigger global crisis than the present migration issue poses".

He also warned that India had "upped its military ante" against Pakistan in order to divert attention from its domestic problems. The premier once again directed the world community's attention towards the human rights violations by the Indian government in occupied Kashmir.

The prime minister also spoke about Israel's occupation of Palestine, stressing that "a just and lasting settlement is indispensable for the Middle East and actually the world".

He said that the "illegal annexations" of Palestinian lands, the building of illegal settlements and imposing "inhumane living conditions" on Palestinian people could not lead to peace.

The prime minister said that Pakistan supported a two-state solution "in line with the UNGA and UNSC resolutions within the international agreed parameters; and they are pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Shareef as the capital of a united, contiguous and independent Palestinian state".

The premier also sounded the alarm on the danger posed by climate change, saying that recent "unprecedented" fires in Australia, Brazil and various parts of the world as well as record temperatures "should make all of us worried for our future generations". He insisted that the commitments made in the Paris Accord be fulfilled. He pointed out that even though Pakistan's contribution to global carbon emissions is "minimal", the country faces greater risk from climate change.

"The United Nations should be made fully responsive to the challenges of our times. A comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, is essential to promote greater democracy, accountability, transparency and efficiency," the prime minister insisted.

Unique UNGA session

The current session, which is the 75th session of the UNGA, is unique in the world body’s history with leaders not attending in person and other meetings being held online.

World leaders will send recorded video statements, which would be introduced by the respective country’s envoy, and then played in the UNGA Hall “as live”.

At the 74th UNGA session last year, PM Khan had highlighted the suffering of Kashmiris and the Indian move to annex the occupied territory in a speech stretching more than 45 minutes,

He had said that the very first action that India needed to take was to lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir and then release all detained prisoners. "And then the world community must give the Kashmiris the right of self-determination," he had stressed.

PM moots strategy to end flight of ‘graft dollars’

A day earlier, the premier had presented a nine-point strategy before the international community to stop the flight of “corruption dollars” from poor to rich countries, which he said was bleeding developing economies.

He had made the remarks before a high-level panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI), which met in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of the UNGA.

The prime minister had urged rich nations to take immediate steps to return the “stolen assets” of developing nations.

Noting that each year, billions of dollars illicitly flew out of developing countries, PM Imran had said his government came to power with a robust public mandate to get rid of corruption.

“We have taken several initiatives domestically. What is needed is strengthening international cooperation to bring perpetrators of financial crime to justice,” he had said. “This bleeding of the poorer countries must stop. International community must adopt decisive actions.”