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Howdy Modi, Howdy UNGA

October 7, 2019 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By PIB
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army


Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the gathering at the 'Howdy Modi' event, in Houston, USA on September 22, 2019. President of United States of America (USA) Donald Trump is also seen.

The 'Howdy Modi' mega event at Houston's NRG stadium on September 22 with PM Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump holding centre stage, and the 74th session of UNGA, particularly the speeches by Modi and Pakistan's Imran Khan on September 27 were viewed globally. Modi spoke strongly against terrorism, indirectly targeting Pakistan and Imran without naming them. He asked "Where do you find conspirators of 9/11 and 26/11 terror attacks?" and called for a decisive battle against terrorism. He also explained that removal of Article 370 would usher development in J&K. Modi underscored his government's push for development in India and emphasised that India had boosted America's economy. Just the previous day, America's Tellurian and India's Petronet had signed a MoU to negotiate the purchase of up to five million tonnes per annum of LNG from US. For Trump, 'Howdy Modi' was a Godsend opportunity as he seeks a second presidential term. Where else could he speak to 50,000 Indian-Americans together with Modi at his side - and lauding him? Trump would have been tickled pink when Modi called "Abki Baar Trump Sarkar". For Trump, the event was also significant because some geopolitical levers engineered by him are not working out: US-Taliban talks are dead; Pakistan continues terror export; denuclearisation of North Korea looks impossible; regime-change in Iran is not working and billions of dollars worth US arms bought by Saudis proved futile against the September 14 Houthi drone attack targeting its oil facilities. Both Modi and Trump lauded each other. Trump praised Modi's economic reforms saying these have lifted more than three million people out of poverty. He also praised his own government's economic record. Trump said, "We are committed to protect innocent civilians from the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. India and US also understand that to keep our community safe, we must protect our borders." This drew claps from Modi and standing ovation from the audience. But Trump's focus in Islamic terrorism was Iran, not on Pakistan, which he later admitted.

In the Trump-Imran Khan meeting held later, Trump never questioned Imran why Pakistan continues to export terrorist to India and Afghanistan but instead said, "I don't think you've ever had a president that felt the way I do, in a positive way, about Pakistan. I don't think you have." He also offered for the third time to mediate on the Kashmir despite India emphasising that Kashmir is an internal issue. Also when Trump spoke about action to secure the borders at Howdy Modi, he meant the US-Mexico border and stopping illegal immigration. Unfortunately, US made no effort to stop hundreds of Pakistanis, Khalistanis and so-called human rights organisations staging protest rally in Houston condemning India for human rights violations in J&K and chanting outside the Howdy Modi venue "Go back Modi" and "Modi is a terrorist".

Narendra Modi addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA on September 27, 2019.

At UNGA, Modi made no mention of Pakistan and Kashmir in his 16-minute speech but instead focused on global issues like environmental degradation, global warming, global peace and multilateralism, highlighting India's contribution to environmental protection and in ensuring global peace by talking of: taken the lead to harness renewable resources; at forefront of building consensus on disaster management; resolve to end the use of single-use plastic; taken the initiative to create the International Solar Alliance. Speaking on the issue of global peace, Modi said that India's message to the world is same as by Buddha and Vivekananda - harmony and peace. He also spoke about welfare schemes in India and said that India's motto is "collective efforts for the growth of all, with everyone's trust." Imran's address to UNGA was in sharp contrast to that by Modi. A day earlier, US had questioned why Imran wasn't also speaking out about China, which has detained an estimated one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims.

On September 27, hundreds of taxis and trucks in New York displayed atrocities against minorities in Pakistan before Imran's UNGA address; rooftop digital advertising displaying, "Pakistan: A country in denial of UN charter on Human rights" and "Mohajirs demand the UN intervention in Pakistan." Balochis and Sindhis too held protests in the US against Pakistan. At UNGA, Imran continued his tirade for 50 minutes, unmindful of the constantly blinking red-light, projecting himself as the ambassador of radical Islam. His main focus was Kashmir, condemning India and threatening nuclear war; on which he spent more than half his time. Imran warned that when India lifts curfew in J&K there would be bloodbath and any all out India-Pakistan conflict would reverberate far beyond their borders; he is first head of state to threaten nuclear war at the UN. Imran speaking of Islamophobia and questioning radical Islamic terrorism was absurd when Pakistan is converting from an Islamic Country to a Radical Islamic Country, and Agha Amin, former Pakistani army major writing, "Pakistan sponsored Taliban who regard all Shias, Ismailis, non-Pashtuns, moderate Pashtuns as infidels who deserve to be massacred"? For that matter, Imran's own radical credentials including his support to Taliban and terrorist organisations like JeM. Replying to Imran's UNGA address, Vidisha Maitra, First Secretary, India's Ministry of External Affairs pointed out the abuse by Imran in using words and phrases like 'pogrom', 'bloodbath', 'racial superiority', 'pick up the gun' and 'fight to the end'; reflected a medieval mindset, not a 21st century vision. More significantly, she asked: can Pakistan confirm the fact that it is home to 130 UN designated terrorists and 25 terrorist entities listed by the UN, as of today; can Pakistan deny that it seeks pension for a global terrorist who is on the Al Qaeda and Daesh sanctions list; can Pakistan deny that their premier bank - the Habib Bank had to shut down after being fined millions for being guilty of terror financing; would Prime Minister Imran Khan deny to the city of New York that he was an open defender of Osama bin Laden, and; will Pakistan deny that the Financial Action Task Force has put the country on notice for its violations of more than 20 of the 27 key parameters? Pakistan protests revocation of Article 370 but itself changed the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan and gave away Shaksgam to China. The raison d'être for Pakistan's identity has always been bandied by its military as Kashmir, without which they may be asked to return to barracks.