Prime Minister Imran Khan will represent Pakistan at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 27, 2019. It will be his first ever and dubbed the most important speech as a premier of Pakistan at the highest decision-making body of the world community. Moreover, he will also meet other world leaders at the sidelines of the session along with his Malaysian counterpart. He will also meet Pakistani diaspora living in the United States as well as the business community. The session provides an annual meet-up for big-guns to ponder over issues ranging from eradicating poverty to sustainable peace.
From the perspective of Pakistan, the 2019 session is strikingly important as its theme is relevant with Imran Khan’s speech where he will be deliberating and exposing the recent Indian action (scrapping Article 370) in Kashmir.
The theme of 2019 session is, ‘Galvanising multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion’ as stated by UNGA President. From the perspective of Pakistan, the 2019 session is strikingly important as its theme is relevant with Imran Khan’s speech where he will be deliberating and exposing the recent Indian action (scrapping Article 370) in Kashmir. However, the said session awaits the new leader to speak to the world and present his vision. Therefore, it is imperative that the premier of Pakistan must give a globalist perspective of the newly formed government in Pakistan. This would also account for shifting of power configuration globally, followed by the recent wave of right-wing populist government spreading across the geopolitical landscape, the weakness of international law and UN reforms in tandem with afghan peace process and its impacts.
Surprisingly, Modi will speak before Imran Khan and the latter would have enough time to re-adjust the agenda accordingly. Regionally, Kashmir will be the prime focus of the speech. However, the changing international and regional dynamics must render Imran Khan to be cognizant of the following important aspects for his speech.
Keeping in mind these preliminaries, Imran Khan must be cognizant of the fact that the co-relation of forces are changing. The world is moving towards multi-polarity which is rendering instability across the world as a result of power competition. Some analysts call it the return of great power politics. Pakistan considers China as its strategic partner in military, political, and economic domain. Strategic convergence is also in the making with Russia being in alliance with China and Pakistan where Turkey and Iran are also betting on the same side.
With China’s peaceful rise and resurgence of Russia, Pakistan is once again being pushed to choose sides by international structures, where the US and India reside on the other side of the equation. A new government in Pakistan must envision a new foreign policy objective in the 21st century. As a challenge, Imran Khan can either strike a balance between the established hegemonic power of the US and the rising power of China and Russia towards sustainable peace. Else it can choose sides which could incur a cost in the globalized world. The lessons must have been learnt from the politics of the Cold War. The former would be a better option for Pakistan in particular and the world at large in general. China needs Pakistan for its politics of cooperation while the US needs Pakistan for its exit strategy in Afghanistan. Turkey and Iran are also coming close to Pakistan, being on the same side of the alliance.
These leaders and political parties reside on the center-to-right of political spectrum of classification. The premier of Pakistan must make the case to the world about the ‘political radicalization’ and shun the politics of right-wing populism which is against globalization and win-win cooperation.
In addition to that, another challenge is about the rising trend of right-wing populist governments which prefer power and politics over peace and stability as well as conflicts over cooperation. President Trump from the Republican Party of US, Boris Johnson from the Conservative Party of the UK, Scott Morrison from the Liberal Party of Australia and Narendra Modi from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India have one common determinant. These leaders and political parties reside on the center-to-right of political spectrum of classification. The premier of Pakistan must make the case to the world about the ‘political radicalization’ and shun the politics of right-wing populism which is against globalization and win-win cooperation.
The international law is being questioned on numerous conflicts emerging in the world. Israel has always leveraged international law for its favor and against the Palestinians. Ranging from Palestinian issue to Kashmir quagmire as well as the plight of migrants from war-torn Middle East to developed Europe, as well as the distant dream of Afghan peace process all encompass the weakness at the behest of international community and their inaction towards the said issues. Imran Khan must elucidate his vision of UN Reforms and how Pakistan can play its critical role towards maintaining peace and stability both at regional and international level.
The Afghan peace process is in its final stages and the world awaits an end to an over a decade long war. Trump has walked away from talks, however, the US does know that there could be no drawdown of the troops from Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan. The threats posed by Trump administration in the form of curbing financial assistance has become an old story now. Imran Khan must make the world cognizant of the fact that whether Cold War or contemporary geopolitics of 21st century, the world cannot acquire peace without the help of Pakistan. Imran Khan can argue with Trump on the resumption of talks and to reconsider his position for greater peace and stability in the region. The situation on ground is that with every passing day, the death toll of US troops is increasing and Trump administration cannot incur such a cost especially when the US presidential elections are due next year.
The theme of this year’s session also exposes those revisionist powers which are violating the basic human rights. The people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) are witnessing severe poverty and hunger at the hands of Indian forces as the curfew in the valley continues for over a month now.
In the South Asian region, expansionist Hindu nationalism has sparked unrest. The recent scrapping of Article 370 by India speaks volumes that Hindutva ideology under the banner of RSS and BJP is hell-bent to engineer an only-Hindu nation in South Asia. Moreover, the said region is perceiving an escalation towards a nuclear threat as now there seems to be an ambiguity in the Indian nuclear posture from no-first-use (NFU) to first-use (FU). In addition to that, another challenge both at regional and international level, is about the rising trend of right-wing populist governments which prefer power and politics over peace and stability as well as conflicts over cooperation.
The theme of this year’s session also exposes those revisionist powers which are violating the basic human rights. The people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) are witnessing severe poverty and hunger at the hands of Indian forces as the curfew in the valley continues for over a month now. They are being deprived from their right of self-determination, right to education and access to information. Recently, Pakistan has successfully put up the case against Indian action of scrapping Article 370 which defined the special status of IOK as a separate entity. The successful diplomatic campaign at UN Human Rights Council and European Parliament now provides another prospect at the session of General Assembly.
In order to establish an environment for the international business community to come to Pakistan, Imran Khan must convince the international audience that it is India and not Pakistan which is against the politics of cooperation and development. Being a critical part of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not being welcomed by India at the regional level and criticized by the US at an international level. However, other states including Europeans are showing their interest towards business including Iran.
The forum would be a classical place to enlighten those who are awarding medals and honors to the Government of India; may it be the Arab states or Bill Gates in the West. Moreover, PTI’s achievements as a ruling party will also add value to the Pakistani narrative.
Conclusively, Imran Khan, being a charismatic leader and a world renowned cricketer would be looked upon as to what he would present before the international community. Where the prime focus of the speech will be on Indian atrocities in Kashmir, the major focus should also include proliferating the narrative as well as soft image of Pakistan. He must emphasize upon the business community to invest in Pakistan, expose the dark side of Hindutva, talks on cooperation and multilateralism, and criticize offensive realist leaders and states.
Syed Ali Hadi is currently pursuing his MPhil in Strategic Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad. He is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research.