PM Khan ‘will try to raise conscience of the world,’ at UN — spokesperson

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal speaks to the media at the Foreign office in Islamabad on March 28, 2019. (AFP/File)
Updated 17 September 2019

PM Khan ‘will try to raise conscience of the world,’ at UN — spokesperson

  • There will be a planned protest outside UN offices after PM Khan speech at UNGA, says spokesman
  • President of Azad Kashmir, political leaders expect Khan will stress human rights violations in Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson, Dr. Muhammad Faisal, told Arab News that Prime Minister Imran Khan would make efforts to ‘raise the conscience’ of world leaders against a continuing curfew in Indian-administered Kashmir, at his speech at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session on September 27 in New York.
On Aug. 5, India flooded the Kashmir valley with troops, imposed a communications lockdown and abrogated a historic clause in its constitution that gave partial autonomy to the Muslim-majority region. Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which both own in part but claim in full. 
In response to India’s abrogation, Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties, suspended bilateral trade and made appeals to the UN and international community to condemn the move as a violation of international law.
“We are not expecting that India will lift the clampdown after this speech, but we will try to raise the conscience of world leaders” the spokesperson said and added that the UNGA was not a decision-making forum, but that there would be a large protest outside UN offices.
“On the sidelines, the PM will also meet contact group on Jammu and Kashmir on September 25,” he said.
Referring to “multiple reports” by human rights organizations, Dr. Faisal said the Prime Minister would demand that major global players take note of human rights abuses in Indian-administered Kashmir.
“PM Khan...will demand from international community to take notice of grave human rights violations there which are mentioned in multiple reports by different human rights organizations including UNHRC,” Dr. Faisal told Arab News.
In a letter to the UN Security Council dated Aug. 13, Pakistan had asked for an urgent meeting on Jammu and Kashmir, and it had taken the matter up during its meeting on Aug. 16.
President of Azad Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan, told Arab News that even though the Prime Minister had raised the Kashmir issue at the UN before, the “aggressive” actions of India had made even graver human rights violations to address, as well as the potential of a bigger conflict erupting in the region.
“When Pakistani PM will speak, he will challenge the international community to act and avert this war started by India, which could turn into a bigger conflict that can be disastrous for the whole region,” Khan said.
A senior leader of the opposition and a parliamentarian from PML-N, Ahsan Iqbal, told Arab News that India’s abrogation and curfew in Kashmir was a “human rights catastrophe,” which should be powerfully highlighted by Imran Khan during his UNGA address.
“He should also ask world community to play active role to compel India to lift the curfew immediately,” he said. 
The UN Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of Muslim Kashmir.
A former foreign secretary who has also served as Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, said that many world leaders and multilateral forums had raised serious concerns about the worsening human rights situation in Kashmir, which Prime Minister Khan could use to his advantage to put pressure on the Indian government.
“He should also highlight Pakistan’s efforts for peace and stability in the region, especially Afghanistan,” Bashir told Arab News.
India upholds that the abrogation of the constitutional clause that rescinded the autonomy of Kashmir is New Delhi’s internal matter.

’Not an appropriate time to meet,’ Deobandi scholars tell PM Khan

Updated 25 min 54 sec ago

’Not an appropriate time to meet,’ Deobandi scholars tell PM Khan

  • PTI government says seminaries and scholars are politically “neutral”
  • Government says seminaries and scholars had excused themselves due to prior engagements

KARACHI: Top clerics from Pakistan’s Deobandi Islamic school of thought did not attend a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Islamic scholars on Friday, citing concerns their presence would be inappropriate, and give the impression they supported the government ahead of a protest march led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), a Deobandi political party.

The JUI-F ‘Azaadi’ (freedom) march is a moving protest scheduled to begin on Oct. 27, with Pakistan’s two biggest opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), announcing this week they will be participating in Rehman’s protest, which aims to make the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government step down due to its inability to deliver on election promises.

“Our consultative meeting decided to decline the invitation because we thought it was not an appropriate time to meet the PM, as it will give an impression that we have sided with the government,” Maulana Talha Rehmani, spokesperson of Wafaq ul Madaris Al-Arabia Pakistan, a seminary board that conducts examinations of more than 10,000 affiliated Deobandi seminaries and 8,000 schools across the country, told Arab News.

However, Azhar Laghari, head of the PTI’s Public Relations and Media, said the seminaries simply had prior engagements that kept them from attending Friday’s meeting. 

“Some Deobandi religious scholars excused themselves from attending the meeting due to other commitments,” Leghari told Arab News.

But Rehmani denied the government’s version of events.

“It was a mutual decision to decline the invitation, due to the prevailing political condition,” he said.

While clarifying that religious seminaries were not to be part of the march, and were “neutral,” he said students of seminaries in their “individual capacity” were free to undertake political activities.

“The boards have strict instructions that affiliated madaris, as institutions, will not participate in any public gathering, rally or march but that students in their individual capacity are free to take part in the activity of any political party,” Rehmani said, and admitted that a majority of students of Deobandi Madrasas supported JUI-F.

According to a handout issued by the PM House, the predominant agenda of the Prime Minister’s meeting was a discussion of reforms in religious schools, while the scholars were also urged to highlight the Kashmir issue from their respective platforms, in response to India revoking the special legal status of the disputed, Muslim-majority territory on Aug. 5th. 

Earlier, local media reported the Prime Minister had said at the occasion that the meeting was not called to seek scholars’ support over the protest march, and concluded with few mentions made of the impending sit-in.

Scholars who attended the meeting included members from the four mainstream sects of the country- the Council of Islamic Ideology, Muttahida Ulema Board, Punjab, and Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.