Imran Khan casts Pakistan as the victim of US ingratitude

Pakistan's prime minister accuses Washington of abandoning his country and neighbouring Afghanistan

Imran Khan remotely addressing the UN General Assembly in a recorded message on Friday. Photo: AP
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Imran Khan sought to cast Pakistan as the victim of US ingratitude and an international double standard in his UN General Assembly address on Friday.

In a recorded speech, Pakistan's prime minister touched on 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 describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government as “fascist”.

He also accused the US of abandoning Pakistan and neighbouring 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,” Mr 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 US war on terror after 9/11.”

He began his narrative with the US and Pakistan training mujahideen fighters 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 placed sanctions on 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, caused internal strife and dissent directed at the state, all while the US carried out drone attacks, he said.

“There is a lot of worry in the US about taking care of the interpreters and everyone who helped the US,” he said, referring to Afghanistan. “What about us?”

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

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

Mr Khan also turned his ire on the international community for what he claimed was 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,” including lynchings, pogroms and discriminatory citizenship laws.

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

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

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and has been claimed by both since they won independence from the British Empire.

Mr Modi addressed the General Assembly in person later on Saturday in a speech which he attacked both Pakistan and China.

Updated: September 25, 2021, 6:38 PM