Imran Khan depicts Pakistan as a victim of US ingratitude

© United Nations Imran Khan remotely addressing UNGA in a pre-recorded message on Friday. Photo: AP

Imran Khan sought to cast Pakistan as the victim of US ingratitude and an international double standard in his UNGA address on Friday.

In a prerecorded speech aired during the evening, the Pakistani prime minister touched on a range of topics from climate change and global Islamophobia to “the plunder of the developing world by their corrupt elites”.

Mr Khan kept his harshest words for India, once again labelling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government “fascist”.

But he also painted the US as an abandoner of both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

“For the current situation in Afghanistan, for some reason, Pakistan has been blamed for the turn of events, by politicians in the United States and some politicians in Europe,” Khan said. “From this platform, I want them all to know, the country that suffered the most, apart from Afghanistan, was Pakistan when we joined the U.S. war on terror after 9/11.”

He began his narrative with the US and Pakistan training mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

But Pakistan was left to pick up the pieces – millions of refugees and new sectarian militant groups – when the Soviets and Americans left in 1989.

Mr Khan said the US sanctioned its former partner a year later, but then came calling again after the 9/11 attacks. Pakistan’s aid to the US cost 80,000 Pakistani lives and caused internal strife and dissent directed at the state, all while the US conducted drone attacks.

“So, when we hear this at the end. There is a lot of worry in the U.S. about taking care of the interpreters and everyone who helped the U.S.,” he said, referring to Afghanistan. “What about us?”

Instead of a mere “word of appreciation,” Pakistan has received blame, Mr Khan said.

Still, many Afghans have blamed Pakistan for the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan because of close links.

The UN in August also rejected Pakistan’s request to give its side at a special meeting on Afghanistan, indicating the international community’s shared scepticism.

Mr Khan struck an optimistic tone about Taliban rule, saying their leaders had committed to human rights, an inclusive government and not allowing terrorists on Afghan soil. But messages from the Taliban have been mixed.

He also turned his ire on that same community for what he perceives as a free pass given to India.

He went through a litany of actions that have “unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million-strong Muslim community,” he said, including lynchings, pogroms and discriminatory citizenship laws.

He specifically decried the “forcible snatching of the mortal remains of the great Kashmiri leader,” Syed Ali Geelani, who died earlier this month at 91.

Geelani’s family said authorities took his body and buried him discreetly and without their consent, denying the separatist leader revered in Kashmir a proper Islamic burial. Mr Khan called upon the General Assembly to demand Geelani’s proper burial and rites.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and has been claimed by both since they won independence from the British empire and began fighting over their rival claims.

Mr Modi is set to address the UNGA in person on Saturday.

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