It was what legends are made of. A wondrous moment that sent shrills of joy echoing throughout caged Kashmiri households. It emboldened the oppressed, frightened Hindutva activists and convincingly sent a damning message to the world – stop the siege on Kashmir or there will be a bloodbath.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, with the eloquence of a seasoned statesman, confidently placed his country in the esteemed company of major global players. With the support of Turkey, China and Malaysia and the behind the scenes support of Qatar, he was nothing short of being in his element.
What hundreds of millions of people were waiting for, what 8 million imprisoned Kashmiris were praying for, was more inspiring than what they imagined. From the onset, his speech was carefully crafted, almost academic in its methodical analysis. Yet, as he carried on, he was brusquely swept away – as were the onlookers, by his intense fusion of faith, passion and audacity.
First, refusing to hold back or mince words, he accused the powerful countries of the world of not doing enough to prevent the climate change they were largely responsible for. Eloquently, he spoke of our humanity's collective stewardship of the environment.
Secondly, he lambasted the ways/means that wealthy nations provide a tax haven to corrupt and unscrupulous officials in developing countries. By doing so, they are complicit in depriving less developed economies of their own much-needed hard cash. In fact, he complained of the arduous rules and regulations that prevent poor countries who seek to regain access to those ill-gotten funds, but constantly hit dead ends.
All this, he pinpointed as a form of money laundering. To date, Swiss banks have huge amounts of cash, upwards of $1 billion – the exact amount being unclear – that a financially struggling Pakistan is unable to access.
Thirdly, he deplored the unholy rise of Islamophobia across the globe. He attacked the manner Islamophobes demonize more than 1 billion Muslims, especially Palestinians, and politicize Muslim clothing, in particular the hijab.
He chastised those who would abuse the principle of freedom of expression to insult or ridicule others – especially, the beloved prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace be upon him. Then, most memorable and mystifyingly, he proudly spoke of his own Islamic faith and the global contributions that it has made to human civilization. Essentially, his speech at the United Nations was a watershed moment, but the clear achievement was when he movingly spoke of the disputed territory of Kashmir.
The disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir remains the longest unresolved conflict on the agenda of United Nations. Also, it is the most militarized space on the planet. Even worse, this international conflict is certainly not bilateral since it involves Kashmir, Pakistan, India and China, and has the atrocious appellation of being a nuclear flashpoint.
Now, the reputable nongovernmental organization Genocide Watch has issued a "genocide alert" over Indian government machinations in Kashmir. In spite of that, no matter how frightening, so little is understood about this conflict. And, its resolution is nowhere in sight. More often than not, the culture, history, identity and most importantly, the will of the people of Kashmir have been deliberately obfuscated for political or ideological agendas.
In fact, there is an ongoing attempt to silence their voices, imprison their bodies, curtail their agency and even snatch their lives – all under the ever-watchful, but disinterested eyes of the world. Attempting to conceal the tragic reality of the people on the ground, the Kashmiris are currently enduring the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindutva India's state terror. Yet, the indomitable Khan would have none of it.
Forcefully, he spoke about the cruel ideology and arrogance of the RSS and Hindutva fanatics that grew out of a grotesque admiration of Mussolini and Hitler. He reminded the world of 1939 Munich and the invasion/occupation of Czechoslovakia that emboldened Hitler to indulge in crimes against humanity.
He probed the entire international community with the harsh question on whether Muslims are "children of a lesser God." And, that if the type of siege currently being inflicted on Kashmiris was inflicted on Europeans – not millions, but only a few – then the whole world would be in uproar. Before it is too late, the international community must fulfill its promises the people of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
By not doing so, it will inevitably leading to a "bloodbath" in the Kashmir Valley. That Pakistan will not and cannot stand by and idly watch. Lastly, in the words of Khan, the people of Pakistan, if attacked and threatened with a loss of their freedom, are ready to fight to the death.
* Secretary-general of Kashmir Civitas, associate professor of political science in the Gulf Studies Program of Qatar University
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