"What kind of a mindset locks up 8 million people? Women, children, sick people. What I know of the west, they wouldn’t stand for 8 million animals to be locked up. These are humans." the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan addressed to the United Nations General Assembly.
On 17th September the UNGA opened its 74th summit, the high-level debate took place on the 24th of September and Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan made a 50 minute long speech.
The speech was a four-point elocution, with its major concerns being climate change, corruption, Islamophobia and finally the revocation of Sec 370 in Kashmir.
On Climate Change:
It isn't a surprise that the speech started off with the urgent need to fight climate change, the issue is a pressing one and Khan reflected on the same urgency.
"I have seen a lot of leaders talk about this. But I don’t see world leaders really realizing the urgency of the situation. We have a lot of ideas; but as they say, ideas without funding is a mere hallucination."
His section on the climate change issue was the same old revised script of any other world leader, perhaps simply just a formality and a lighter note to start off on. The same went for the corruption appeal - revised and well versed.
But here's when Khan really went from zero to hundred real quick - Islamophobia.
"My third point is Islamophobia; there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. Muslims living across all continents. Islamophobia has grown since 9/11 and it is alarming. It is creating divisions."
Perhaps the lack of mention on the issue is what took us off-guard but the importance of the issue still remained. Khan in his speech highlighted some of the most pressing issues under the Islamophobia context.
"Terrorism has nothing to do with any religion," Khan said. "No one did research that before 9-11, the majority of suicide bombers in the world were Tamil Tigers. They were Hindus."
"No one blamed Hinduism. And quite rightly. What has Hinduism got to do with what desperate people were doing in Sri Lanka?" he asked.
He also cleared the air on the lack of accountability Muslim World Leaders took to make sure the narrative didn't see the light of the day. Instead, leaders hid under the blanket of "enlightened moderation" to protect themselves and not their communities.
"I always imagined what I would say and educate the world about Islam if I ever stood on this forum. In western society, the holocaust is treated with sensitivity because it hurts the Jewish community. So that’s the same respect we ask for; do not hurt our sentiments by maligning our Holy Prophet (PBUH). That is all we ask."
On Kashmir And Sec 377:
He then spoke about the revocation of section 370 in Kashmir - "You think Kashmiris will accept a new status quo under revocation of Article 370? 100,000 Kashmiris killed, thousands of women raped. UN reported on this. But the world did nothing because it sees India as a huge market. Materialism has trumped humanity."
It was particularly this section of his speech that raised eyes - the words, the tone and the assurance that came with it. For some, the speech was a little too "crude", especially for the Indian representatives at the UNGA.
"Rarely has the General Assembly witnessed such misuse, rather abuse, of an opportunity to reflect. Words matter in diplomacy. Invocation of phrases such as 'pogrom', 'bloodbath', 'racial superiority', 'pick up the gun' and 'fight to the end' reflect a medieval mindset and not a 21st century vision," said Vidisha Maitra, First Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs in India's response to Khan.
While Maitra's statement stands true, there is some truth in the statements he made. The most important one being - What happens after the curfew in Kashmir is lifted?
All things said and done, the people of Kashmir have been on lockdown for over 50 days and internet services have been cut off for the same duration - when India lifts the curfew, what will the people do?
Frustrated, angry, confused and also betrayed they probably won't "pick up the gun" as Khan suggested, but there will be noise. There will be unrest and the government will either use force to stop the unrest or let it rise, and either way, nobody wins.
"I picture myself in Kashmir, locked up for 50 days. Hearing about rapes, the Indian army going around. Would I live with this humiliation? You are forcing people towards radicalization."
Maybe we are pushing people towards radicalization? Imagine being cut off from the outside world and being forced to be confined to four walls. Would you be instigated to rebel, to question, to bring justice?
We have seen vigilantism in the nation before - it only lead to murder and havoc. The same kind of vigilantism is what threatens the nation in the midst of the Indian seige. The real threat of violence, uprising, and crime.
"Materialism has trumped humanity." Khan said, and as we continue to scrutinize him for his "crass" language - the world further continues to prove his words true.
"I am not threatening here about nuclear war; it is a worry. It is a test for the United Nations. You are the one who said Kashmir right to self-determination. This is not the time for appeasement like that in 1939 in Munich." Khan said, concluding his speech.
To which India responded - "Prime Minister Imran Khan's threat of unleashing nuclear devastation qualifies as brinksmanship, not statesmanship. Even coming from the leader of a country that has monopolized the entire value chain of the industry of terrorism, Prime Minister Khan's justification of terrorism was brazen and incendiary."
The threat of a nuclear war has been on the brink since India partitioned, the open declaration of the reality that hangs over our heads at all times is what was accounted for as crude.
Imran Khan made valuable points in his speech, though heavily criticized for very valid reasons, if you do listen to the speech - slip through the extremities and look for the striking resemblance of reality.