NEW YORK: It’s a story of two neighbours, but with sharply diverging narratives. While India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about climate change, health and sustainable development at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan brazenly abused the global platform to launch a blistering hate speech against India in the name of Kashmir.
Speaking before Imran Khan, the Indian leader showcased transformative changes underway in India, and exhorted the world community to stand as one against terrorism.
“For the sake of humanity, I firmly believe, that it is absolutely imperative, that the world unites against terrorism, and that the world stands as one against terrorism,” Mr Modi told world leaders at the 74th session of the UNGA in New York.
“We belong to a country that has given the world, not war, but Buddha’s message of peace. And that is the reason why, our voice against terrorism, to alert the world about this evil, rings with seriousness and the outrage.”
“We believe that this is one of the biggest challenges, not for any single country, but for the entire world and humanity. The lack of unanimity amongst us on the issue of terrorism dents those very principles that are the basis for the creation of the U.N.”
In a sober and statesman-like speech, Mr Modi told the world community about revolutionary initiatives taken by his government to transform the lives of people, including building over 100 million toilets, universal health insurance, and paving the way for inclusive growth.
Positioning India in a leadership role in the area of clean energy and climate change, Mr Modi spoke spiritedly about his target of achieving 450 GW of renewable energy and underlined the growing global support for the India-led International Solar Alliance.
Mr Modi scrupulously avoided any mention of Kashmir to keep the focus of his UNGA speech on India’s development agenda and the country’s leadership role in the world.
Imran Khan’s Hate India spin
In sharp contrast, Mr Modi’s counterpart Imran Khan spun a gloom-and-doom narrative on alleged human rights abuses by India in Jammu and Kashmir and warned New Delhi of a bloodbath after the curfew in J&K is lifted.
Mr Khan warned the UN of the possibility that Pakistan’s dispute with India over the territory could escalate into an all-out nuclear war.
“There are 900,000 troops there, they haven’t come to, as Narendra Modi says — for the prosperity of Kashmir… These 900,000 troops, what are they going to do? When they come out? There will be a bloodbath,” Mr. Khan told the UNGA in New York.
“If a conventional war starts between the two countries, anything could happen. But supposing a country seven times smaller than its neighbour is faced with the choice: either you surrender, or you fight for your freedom till death?” Mr. Khan said.
“What will we do? I ask myself these questions. We will fight… and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders.”
The contrast between the tone and content of the UNGA speeches by Mr Modi and Mr Khan can’t be starker, and underlined India’s rising global stature compared to Pakistan’s single-minded obsession with Kashmir and the use of terror infrastructure that has made it look like a failing state.
The Indian government has not officially reacted to Mr Khan’s vitriolic speech, but the Indian mission in New York is set to depute a junior diplomat to exercise India’s right to reply.
However, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry has insinuated a deep distaste for Mr Khan’s speech. “…not everyone feels that there is life beyond the jingoism of nuclear war, jihad, encouraging terrorism, war mongering, falsehood, deceit and misuse of the highest global platform.”
(Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is in New York to report on and analyse the 74th session of the UNGA and PM Modi’s visit to the US)
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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