PM’s UNGA speech


Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Mohamed Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) received much fanfare back home as he did not hesitate in discussing the Kashmir issue along with the excesses of the Indian army in the Indian-occupied valley. Prime Minister Sharif also expressed Pakistan’s commitment to attainment of peace with India, its opposition to an arms race with India, and the need for dialogue between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir dispute. As a response to Indian allegations of cross border terrorism, Prime Minister Sharif, in his speech, highlighted Pakistan’s losses of foreign sponsored terrorism, and praised the country’s operation Zarb-e-Azb in fighting militancy.
Prime Minister Sharif’s UNGA speech comes amidst a charged atmosphere as tensions between Pakistan and India rose to a dangerous level following the militant attack at Uri in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. While the war of words between the two countries had been going on for a long time, the aftermath of the Uri attack has witnessed the injection of a kind of virulence that is shaping public opinion towards war. Hopefully, sanity will prevail in both camps, but the characteristic jingoistic chest thumping that is dominating both camps has precluded the chance of meaningful discourse, which might help rescuing relations from the present extreme.
All this means that Prime Minister Shairf said what was expected of him in his UNGA speech. Being a democratically elected leader, he was responding to popular public sentiment, and the omission of either Kashmir or Pakistan’s losses to foreign backed terrorism would have invited widespread opprobrium on him. However, Prime Minister Sharif in his intent of ensuring successful defence of Pakistan’s position vis-à-vis Indian allegations, put forward a Pakistani position that was centred around Kashmir, security and terrorism. Essentially, Pakistan’s image as a country predominantly occupied with its security concerns was reinforced without highlighting other positive aspects of the country.
Michael Kugelman, an analyst on South Asia, shared this view as he said in a tweet: “Would’ve been beneficial for Sharif to focus more on bright spots in his country eg stronger economy & less terror violence. Alas.” All of this is not to say that Pakistan’s security concerns are not important, but just that Pakistan has to show the world that it is on the path of development. It is a reality that the world of international relations does not have much room for basing decisions on purely moral basis.