PM Imran Khan to address 75th session of UN General Assembly, Kashmir issue to be focused yet again


NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to address the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) via video link on September 25, according to an initial list of speakers officially released on Tuesday.

The general debate of the 193-member assembly, which is traditionally a high-profile annual UN event, will open on September 22. However, this year it is expected to be a slimmed-down affair, with world leaders staying away from New York because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They will be contributing set-piece speeches via video link.

According to the list, PM Imran, who last year made his debut at the UN as head of state, is the sixth speaker in the afternoon session on September 25.

“I expect that the prime minister will once again raise the cause of the Kashmiri people for self-determination and *azadi *[freedom] from Indian oppression," Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN Munir Akram told *APP.*

Akram added that the prime minister will also talk about Pakistan’s facilitation of and hopes for the peace process in Afghanistan, its successful response to the coronavirus crisis, debt relief for developing countries and other international issues in his wide-ranging address.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to speak on September 26, a day after the Pakistani leader’s address.

US President Donald Trump is set to address on the morning of September 22, the opening day of the general debate, which will run through September 29.

The US is traditionally the second speaker in the high-level debate after Brazil. New arrangements

UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, last month had said each Member State, Observer State and the European Union were invited to submit a pre-recorded video, delivered by its designated high-level official, which will be played in the General Assembly Hall.

Speeches will be limited to 15 minutes.

The iconic General Assembly Hall will not be empty as videos will be introduced by a representative of each state, who will be physically present.

The same procedure will apply for a series of special high-level sessions scheduled to take place, including a commemoration of the landmark 75th anniversary of the United Nations; a summit on biodiversity; and a meeting to commemorate and promote, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Side-events, such as New York Climate Week, are unlikely to welcome attendees to New York venues this year, following Muhammad-Bande’s suggestion that they should be moved online.

The decision to introduce pre-recorded videos to the High-Level General Debate, which takes place at the beginning of the 75th session of the General Assembly, was made by the UN body on Wednesday, using the novel ‘silence procedure’ method.

Under this method, draft resolutions are circulated by the UNGA president which gives member states a deadline of at least 72 hours to raise objections.

If there are no objections, the president circulates a letter, confirming that the resolution has been adopted.

Ahead of the 75th session, Ambassador Akram will meet UNGA President-elect Volkan Bozkir on August 21 and discuss the items inscribed on the Assembly's agenda.

Bozkir, a veteran Turkish diplomat, will assume the office as UNGA President on September 15, the day the 75th session gets underway.