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Krishna Menon's epic 8-hour long UN speech on Kashmir turns 60!

 

  • During the marathon speech, Menon collapsed midway and had to be hospitalised. 
  • But he returned after a while and continued his blast on Pakistan claims for another hour. 
Krishna Menons epic 8 hour long UN speech turns 60
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Sixty years back, VK Krishna Menon, one of the best statesmen India has ever produced, made that marathon speech at the UN, tearing into the Pakistan propaganda on Kashmir. On 23 and 24 January 1957, Menon, equally known for his intelligence and arrogance, turned the tables on Pakistan in his 7.48-hour speech in the international body which remains an unbroken record. The transcript of the speech runs to 160 pages! 
 

During the marathon speech, Menon collapsed midway and had to be hospitalised. But he returned after a while and continued his blast on Pakistan claims for another hour. 


Menon, who was later known as Indian Rasputin and Nehru's Evil Genius, was replying to a letter on Kashmir addressed to the UN Security Council by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan on 2 January 1957.  The Pakistan Minister had also made a statement to the UN on 16 January. 
 

The long speech blunted the Pakistan's case and won Soviet Union's support. Subsequently,  Soviet Union vetoed the UN resolution on Kashmir.

“The Security Council regards this as a dispute. It is not a dispute for territory. There is only one problem before you… that problem is the problem of (Pakistan's) aggression,” Menon argued.

 "The Government of India here is not in the dock. We came here as complainants. A distinguished colleague of ours appears to have mentioned this today: why should we be so much on the defence? If it sounds to people that we are on the defence, it may be because we indulged in some understatements both in the past and in the present. We are here not in order to ask for condemnation of anybody, but we are here in order to  state what are our rights under the Charter. Have we the right for the security of our territory? Have we the right to be free from threat? Have we the right to feel assured that the machinery of the Security Council and its resolutions are not going to be used as a smokescreen for the preparation of aggression against us? Have we the right so far as the Council is concerned and I say that it cannot impose it- to live side by side with our neighbour, free from the threats of a holy war? Have we the right to enable our peoples, the great majority of whom are below subsistence levels, to devote their energies, their attention, our resources,our friendships, for their economic and political development?"  Menon said in the end of his speech. 


It was amazing to watch how Menon could go on developing the subtleties of his brief for hours without consulting notes, wrote  Subhash Chakravarty, author of 'VK Krishna Menon and the Indian League' wrote. 
Krishna Menons epic 8 hour long UN speech turns 60

"His five-hour speech on Kashmir followed by another two hours and 48 minutes the next day set up an all-time record in any international locution or UN declamation. He could be charming and conciliatory but if required he could move on to a prolonged vituperation against imperial hubris and great-power chauvinism and then switch over to an erudite philosophical and legalistic discourse,"
 

  •  Other epic speeches at the UN
  • The second longest speech was by Fidel Castro of Cuba at the 872nd plenary meeting of the General Assembly on 26 September 1960 . The speech lasted 269 minutes. 
  • 10 Oct. 1960:   Sékou Touré – Guinea – President – 896th Plenary – 144 minutes 
  • 23 Sep. 1960 :  Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev – USSR – Chairman of the Council of Ministers – 869th Plenary – 140 minutes  
  • 30 Sep. 1960: Soekarno – Indonesia – President – 880th Plenary – 121 minutes   
  • 23 Sep. 2009: Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi – Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Leader of the Revolution – 96 minutes  
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