New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is in a fix once again, and this time regarding his comments at the United Nations General Assembly.
At the UNGA forum, Khan said the ‘mujahideen’ were considered ‘heroes’ and that former US President Ronald Reagan had invited them to the White House.
“…According to a news item, he (Reagan) compared them (mujahideens) to the founding fathers of the United States. They were heroes!” Khan is reported to have said.
PM Khan’s comments were met with harsh criticism. Pakistani journalist Gharidah Farooqi said it was an ‘international embarrassment’ that he was quoting from ‘fake news’ to launch Pakistan at the UNGA. She also called for the firing of his speech writer.
What an international embarrassment that too at #UNGA forum this time. US Pres RonaldRegan NEVER compared ‘mujahideen’ to Founding Fathers. It’s a FAKE NEWS. PM Khan refers to a fake “news item” to launch 🇵🇰case at such a prestigious forum! Who wrote speech for PM Khan? Fire him. pic.twitter.com/UaSLOOkeea
— Gharidah Farooqi (@GFarooqi) September 25, 2021
Among those who lashed out at Khan was Pakistan Opposition leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who said, “Fire Imran Khan, not the speech writer. Bad SELECTION!”
Fire Imran Khan, not the speech writer. Bad SELECTION! https://t.co/t2MkoQZ06g
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) September 25, 2021
Meanwhile, academician and former Afghan diplomat Mahmoud Saikal said that Khan’s defense was poor and most of his facts were wrong. “The days of plausible deniability are over. The exposure of Pakistan will continue,” he tweeted.
Listened to @ImranKhanPTI statement @ #UNGA . He is uncomfortable about the world position on Pakistan’s proxy aggression in Afghanistan. His defense is poor and most of his facts are wrong. The days of plausible deniability are over. The exposure of Pakistan will continue.
— Mahmoud Saikal (@MahmoudSaikal) September 25, 2021
Pakistani journalist Naila Inayat, on the other hand, pointed out that this was not the first time Imran Khan had been caught claiming that Ronald Reagan had invited the mujahideen to the White House. She tweeted that he had made a similar claim in 2019 at an event of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
In 2019 while speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations made the same claim: “I never forget when Ronald Reagan invited the mujahideen leaders to Washington and he said they reminded him of, and I quote, ‘the moral equivalence of the founding fathers of the United States’.” pic.twitter.com/FLDLE4USFv
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) September 25, 2021
Indian diplomat’s response
The Pakistan PM also got a strong reply from Indian diplomat Sneha Dubey, who said that Khan had tarnished the image of the international forum by bringing in “internal matters and spewing falsehoods.”
She asserted that terrorists enjoy a “free pass”, while those targeted by them (especially those coming from minority communities) had their worlds turned upside down. She alleged that Khan continued to defend acts of terror, which was unacceptable. “This is the country which is an arsonist disguising itself as a fire-fighter,” she said.
Young Indian Diplomat Sneha Dubey slams Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for justifying terrorism at the @UN. Powerful interjection with facts against Pakistan’s propaganda, lies and falsehoods. Must listen to the entire speech.pic.twitter.com/2yL8BZP7gc
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) September 25, 2021
The speech by Sneha Dubey was largely lauded, especially by Twitter users. One claimed that it was a “befitting reply”, while another posted a picture with the caption: ‘Ladki me dum hain’
— Ashok Kumar Khanna (@AshokKu55696605) September 25, 2021
— Deepak Singh Kushwah (@its_dsk) September 25, 2021
Another Pakistani user, who claims to be the ‘Personal Adviser’ to Gen Qamar Bajwa in his bio, took a rather humorous stance. He tweeted that Pakistan had rejected Sneha Dubey’s allegations because her speech was in English.
Since the official speech made by #SnehaDubey in UNGA was in English we reject all the allegations made by India as we’ve not understood the single word she said against Pakistan.
— 🇵🇰Zaidu🇵🇰 (@TheZaiduLeaks) September 25, 2021
Support for Imran Khan
Meanwhile, there were also a few who deemed it a mistake and rushed to the support of Imran Khan.
Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sidestepped the controversy and instead chose to praise Khan for his speech. He said that he was proud of Imran Khan who spoke about “major global challenges,” and that he “continues to engage every major platform to bravely share voices of those less fortunate & to highlight key issues that many choose to ignore but that affect us all.”
Proud to be under leadership of PM @ImranKhanPTI who at #UNGA spoke about major global challenges of today. PM Khan continues to engage every major platform to bravely share voices of those less fortunate & to highlight key issues that many choose to ignore but that affect us all
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) September 24, 2021
Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar tweeted in support of Khan, writing that “Imran Khan bashing seemed to be a full-time occupation.” While another user said it was the “First Time In The History Of United Nations, Pakistan Army & ISI Were Praised By Name.”
Imran Khan bashing seems to be a full-time occupation for an endless stream of people.
— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar) September 25, 2021
First Time In The History Of United Nations, Pakistan Army & ISI Were Praised By Name.
If this is not TABDEELI then I do not know what is.
— Mir Mohammad Alikhan (@MirMAKOfficial) September 25, 2021