Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to meet US President Donald Trump today in New York City ahead of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly opening on September 24.
The meeting — expected to take place at 10pm and reported to be the first of two between the leaders during the UN session — follows a “Howdy, Modi!” rally in Houston on Sunday in which the US president and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a stage and showered each other with praise.
Trump and Imran last met in in July at the Oval office. During their first one-on-one interaction, the US president had expressed his willingness to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the 70-year-old Kashmir dispute — an offer he has repeated but has been rejected by India.
Tensions between India and Pakistan reached a feverish pitch on August 5, when New Delhi unilaterally annexed occupied Kashmir, revoking a constitutional guarantee that gave a special status to the disputed territory. A strict lockdown and communications blackout was imposed in the region that has snapped off ordinary people’s internet and mobile telephone service across much of occupied Kashmir. It has now entered its 50th day.
President Trump’s recent comments on Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations have triggered speculations about an indirect dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours during the UNGA, with Washington playing the role of a facilitator.
Last week, President Trump told reporters at a White House briefing that “a lot of progress” has been made in defusing India-Pakistan tensions and his statement has strengthened these speculations.
After it was confirmed that Trump would meet both Indian and Pakistani prime ministers before and during the UNGA, diplomatic observers in Washington said the possibility that he may use the meetings to discuss the situation in Kashmir is stronger than ever before.
Prime Minister Imran, who has declared himself an ambassador of Kashmiris, spent the second day of his seven-day visit to the United Nations briefing US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media on the repercussions of the Indian annexation of the disputed Kashmir valley.
The lawmakers who called on the prime minister on Sunday included US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham.
Senator Graham was also among those four US senators who wrote a letter to President Trump last week, asking him to take immediate action to end deepening humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir.
In addition to his meeting with Trump, Prime Minister Imran on Monday will speak at an event at the think tank, Council on Foreign Relations. He will address the UN Climate Change Summit and the Summit on Universal Health Care on the same day.
The premier is also expected to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as with China’s Vice President Wang Qishan.
On Saturday, he met with the founder the Kashmir Study Group Farooq Kathwari during which he urged Kathwari to continue informing the world about India’s illegal occupation and human rights violations in occupied Kashmir so that they could see the real face of Modi’s government.
On Sunday, US special envoy for Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad had a meeting with the prime minister. The prime minister also met Amnesty International’s secretary general Komi Naidoo and discussed with him the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran is due to address the UN General Assembly on September 27. He has already announced that he will highlight the Kashmir issue in his address, exposing the ethical and legal bankruptcy of India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir.