Ignoring Sharif, Modi's UN speech will be 'forward looking'

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, New York
  • Updated: Sep 27, 2014 18:39 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not dignify Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s remarks on Kashmir with a response when he addresses United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Saturday.

Prime Minister Modi will deliver his remarks in a “forward looking manner”, said ministry of external affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin in a terse reaction to Sharif’s statement. Modi is scheduled to speak at UNGA at around 8pm.

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But Sharif won’t be allowed to get away with it either. Exercising India’s right to reply, one of its diplomats will rebut the Pakistan Prime Minister from the floor of the assembly.

During his speech, Sharif said he was disappointed that India cancelled foreign secretary-level talks last month because of Pakistani support for right of the people of Kashmir to self-determination.

It is “our historic commitment and a duty, as a party to the Kashmir dispute,” Sharif said at UNGA late Friday, around the time Modi was arriving in New York.

India disagrees, of course, and finds UN references by Pakistan to Kashmir with the usual call for international mediation tiresome and, increasingly, undeserving of attention.

Read : We cannot draw a veil on Kashmir issue: Sharif

It was with the same sense of exasperation that India had called off foreign secretary-level talks over Pakistani ambassador meeting with Hurriyat representatives.

Pakistani expatriates demonstrating outside the UN were not impressed by Sharif either. “Did Nawaz write that speech himself?” asked Kamran Niazi of Connecticut.

Hundreds of Pakistani-Americans, mostly supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek i Insaf and Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik, demonstrated outside.

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“He has no right to rule,” said Shahid Wazir of New Jersey, “he stole the election”. He supports Imran Khan — “he got us the world cup and has worked tirelessly for the country”.

“Even Indians like him, don’t they,” said Niazi, adding, “You want a real shot at peace between Pakistan and India — he is the man; he is the leader who can deliver it.”

Sharif? No chance, said a number of the demonstrators.

The MEA spokesperson said there are no plans for Modi to meet Sharif on the sidelines of the UN general assembly, as world leaders do often — not even a pull-aside.

Modi has a few scheduled meetings ahead — Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.

But, once again, no Sharif.

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