NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 27: Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on September 27, 2019 in New York City. World leaders from across the globe are gathered at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, amid crises ranging from climate change to possible conflict between Iran and the United States. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 25 would focus on Kashmir dispute, the Foreign Office said.

“Due to restrictions imposed by the local government in New York, there will be no in-person high-level participation from outside. Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the General Assembly on Friday, 25th September,” FO Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said at the weekly media briefing.

The general debate, which is the centrepiece of any UN General Assembly session, starts from Tuesday (Sept 22).

The current session, which is the 75th session, is unique in the world body’s history with leaders not attending in person and other meetings being held online.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

World leaders will send recorded video statements, which would be introduced by the respective country’s envoy, and then played in the UNGA Hall “as live”.

FO rejects India’s request for appointment of foreign lawyer in Jadhav case

However, the world leaders can still attend in person.

Spokesman Chaudhri said: “… Jammu and Kashmir dispute will certainly be an important component of the Prime Minister’s UNGA address. Let me reiterate that Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues to remain a Foreign Policy priority for Pakistan”.

In his speech at the 74th UNGA session last year, PM Khan had highlighted sufferings of Kashmiris and the Indian action of annexing the occupied territory.

Alongside the UNGA session, there would be a series of special high-level sessions, including an event to commemorate the UN’s 75th anniversary; a summit on biodiversity; and a meeting to commemorate, and promote, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Mr Chaudhri said that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi would participate virtually in the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. He will also participate in other high-level engagements, he added.

India’s military buildup

The spokesman reiterated concerns about India’s military buildup saying Delhi was amassing military capabilities beyond its genuine security requirements.

“Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the risk of massive Indian arms buildup as well as their offensive security doctrine and force postures, which are adversely affecting strategic stability in South Asia,” the spokesman said.

He was reacting to the formal induction of the first five of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft into the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Sept 10. The aircraft is being celebrated as a ‘game changer’ by IAF for significantly upgrading its capability.

Mr Chaudhri regretted that this arms buildup by India is being aided and abetted by the West through a policy of exemptions, waivers and supply of advanced equipment, technology and weapons for narrow commercial interests.

“The world community must dissuade India from its disproportionate arms buildup which could lead to an arms race in South Asia,” he said, reminding the world of India’s bellicose and irresponsible rhetoric in pursuit of a revisionist agenda in the neighbourhood.

Jadhav’s counsel

Mr Chaudhri once again said that India would not be allowed to appoint a foreign lawyer for representing spy Kulbhushan Jadhav during the review proceedings in the Islamabad High Court.

“India has been consistently making the unrealistic demand of allowing a lawyer from outside Pakistan to represent Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav,” he said.

“We have informed India that only those lawyers are allowed to appear in Pakistani courts who have a licence to practice law in Pakistan. This is in line with international legal practice. There can be no change in this position,” he added.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs suggested appointment of a Queen’s counsel to represent Jhadav.

Pakistan government initiated review and reconsideration of Jhadav case to implement last year’s ICJ verdict, which asked Pakistan to allow Indian consular officers’ access to him, and arrange effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav.

Jadhav, who was arrested in 2016 in Balochistan, was sentenced to death by a military court in 2017 after being convicted of espionage.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2020