(From left) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan's PM Imran Khan
(From left) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan's PM Imran Khan

New York: All eyes will be on the UN General Assembly (UNGA) where India and Pakistan will take the stage, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi outlining the country's larger role on the world stage and what it was doing for development, peace and security, while his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan will solely focus on Kashmir.

Modi's address at the 74th session of the UNGA on Friday will take place at around 7.30 p.m. India time. He will be among the first few speakers, and Khan is slated to address the world body after him. India has made it clear that it will not mention Kashmir at all during the time allotted to speak at the global forum as revocation of the Article 370 was an entirely "internal issue".

India's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin has said that India will "soar high if Pakistan stoops low" by raking up the Kashmir issue at the UNGA. In his departure statement, Modi said: "There are many pressing challenges for the international community - a still fragile global economy, turbulence and tension in many parts of the world, growth and spread of terrorism, climate change and the endemic global challenge of poverty.

"They require stronger global commitment and concerted multilateral action. I will reiterate our commitment to reformed multilateralism, which is responsive, effective and inclusive, and in which India plays her due role." Pakistan has been raising the pitch aggressively on the Kashmir issue, and even got Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to speak on Kashmir. With Khan alleging that India was out to change the demography of Kashmir into a Hindu-majority one from the present Muslim majority state, under what he calls as the "Hindu fascist and supremacist" government of Modi, he appears to have got Turkey's ear.

Erdogan has obviously bought Pakistan's narrative on Kashmir, without bothering to speak to India on it. On Wednesday, Erdogan told the UNGA that despite the UN resolutions "eight million people are stuck" in Kashmir. Erdogan said that the 72-year-old Kashmir issue should be resolved through dialogue on the basis of justice and equity. The Turkish president also co-hosted a roundtable on hate speech with Khan on the sidelines of the UNGA and in his address cited incidents in India where Muslims had been "lynched for eating beef".

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC)'s Contact Group on Kashmir has also asked India to reverse its revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir and allow access to international bodies, including OIC and UN, to independently investigate reports of "gross and systematic human rights violations taking place there".

India has been pursuing an active diplomatic outreach, both before the UNGA and also during the ongoing session, to present its case before the world community, the reasons for revocation of special status, its plans for bringing development to Kashmir and Pakistan's role in actively stymieing any development through fostering terrorism across the border.

US President Donald Trump, though he has several times suggested mediation on Kashmir, kept away from mentioning the issue in his speech, and has voiced confidence in Modi tackling cross-border terror. He has also "encouraged" Modi to improve relations with Islamabad and "fulfil his promises" to better the lives of the Kashmiri people, according to a readout of their bilateral meeting.

Khan has been raising the spectre of a massacre in Jammu and Kashmir once the curfew is lifted, in his meetings with the Human Rights Watch and the editorial staff of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and his interview to CNBC. While Modi will not talk about Kashmir, a junior Indian diplomat is expected to counter Khan's statement at the UNGA in the right to reply.

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