Pakistan hits out at America at UN over fallout of its ‘war on terror’
Prime Minister Imran Khan sought to cast Pakistan as the victim of American ungratefulness and international double standards in his address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday.
In a pre-recorded speech aired during the evening, the Pakistani prime minister touched upon a range of topics that included the climate crisis, global Islamophobia and “the plunder of the developing world by their corrupt elites” - the latter of which he likened to what the East India Company did to India.
The cricketer-turned-politician was indignant and plaintive as he painted the United States as a country that abandoned both 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,” 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 (the 2001 terror attacks in the US).”
He launched into a narrative that began with the US and Pakistan training “mujahideen” - regarded as heroes by the likes of then US president Ronald Reagan, he said - 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 the Americans left in 1989.
Khan said the US sanctioned its former partner a year later, but then came calling again after the 9/11 attacks. Khan said Pakistan’s help 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 US about taking care of the interpreters and everyone who helped the US,” he said, referring to Afghanistan. “What about us?” Instead of a “word of appreciation”, Pakistan has only received blame, Khan rued.
Myanmar won’t address, but Afghanistan will
No representative from Myanmar is scheduled to address the General Assembly, a UN spokesman said on Friday, amid rival claims for the country’s UN seat in New York after a military coup ousted the elected government.
Competing claims have also been made on Afghanistan’s UN seat after the Taliban seized power last month. The ambassador for the ousted Afghan government is set to give his speech on Monday.
“At this point, Myanmar is not speaking,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Myanmar’s current UN ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun - appointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted government - had initially been expected to address the General Assembly on Monday.
But diplomats said China, Russia and the US had reached an understanding, where Moscow and Beijing will not object to Kyaw Moe Tun remaining in Myanmar’s UN seat for the moment as long as he does not speak during the meeting.
Dujarric said that “for now, the Afghanistan representative inscribed on the list for Monday is Mr. Ghulam M. Isaczai”. Isaczai is the current United Nations ambassador, who represents Afghanistan’s government that was recently ousted by the Taliban group.