Nawaz Sharif’s address at UNGA

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Mohammad Jamil

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has effectively presented Pakistan’s case before the international community. He categorically stated: “Pakistan fully supports the demand of the Kashmiri people for self-determination, as promised to them by several Security Council resolutions. The people of Kashmir have waited 70 years for implementation of this promise. The Security Council must honour its commitments by implementing its own decisions.” On terrorism, he candidly remarked: “We will not win the fight against terrorism and violent extremism so long as we do not address their root causes. These lie in poverty and ignorance, political and social injustice and oppression, foreign intervention and occupation and denial of the legitimate rights of peoples and nations, especially the right to self-determination.”
Giving the track record of the United Nations, one should not pin any hope on it, as big powers exert influence over its its decisions. The misuse of the veto power of the permanent members of the UNSC was the reason for the Security Council’s inability to maintain international peace. The glaring example was the use of veto-power on various resolutions on Kashmir and Palestine by former Soviet Russia and the US respectively. During the Cold War era, veto power was used for advancing interests of the super-powers to the detriment of a nation like Pakistan. The resolutions passed by the Security Council could not be implemented because super powers were not serious enough, either due to India’s size and population, their vested interest or their whims and fancies. For the last 10 years, there is a lot of talk about reforms in the UNSC.
The US has been supporting India’s inclusion in the UNSC as permanent member; but despite all maneuverings it is not likely to succeed. Apart from that, even if the permanent membership of the Security Council is to be increased, no country should be given the veto power; rather, the existing permanent members should also be stripped off the veto power, which is a symbol of absolutism. In fact, the veto power negates the very concept of democratic approach, and contradicts the principal of equality amongst the members of the United Nations. The US had advocated a criteria-based approach under which potential members must be supremely well qualified, based on factors such as economic size, population, military capacity, commitment to democracy and human rights, financial contributions to the UN etc. The position taken by the US reinforced its desire to see India as permanent member of the UNSC.
The question is why the US did not incorporate conditions of showing respect for and implementing UNSC resolutions to qualify for permanent UNSC membership. It has to be remembered that under Hitler, Nazi Germany too had registered unprecedented economic growth within a short span of time, but look where it got it. After achieving unprecedented economic growth and industrialization, Germany was competing with other countries like Great Britain and France. Anyhow, pressure is also being mounted on Pakistan to halt its nuclear program. Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi has said that “Pakistan cannot limit its nuclear programme unilaterally, and the world should first put an end to nuclear activities undertaken by India.” Addressing a press conference, she said PM Nawaz Sharif made it clear to Secretary John Kerry that India should be asked to take same measures what are demanded from Pakistan.
Meanwhile, two American lawmakers have introduced legislation in the US Congress the other day to designate Pakistan as a terrorism sponsoring state. The bill was moved by Congressmen Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher – both of them Republicans and Pakistan haters. Ted Poe is the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism. Rohrabacher is a strong opponent to Pakistan and, towing India’s line, he has been blowing Balochistan issue out of proportions to malign Islamabad. “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years. From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it’s not America’s,” Poe said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the bill.
The text of the bill includes reference to Pakistan, what it called, for its sponsorship of terrorism, including US threat assessments that revealed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) facilitated Al Qaida’s movement of fighters to and from Afghanistan as well as the terrorist organisation’s purchase of weapons. The Indian connection to this sinister bill was quite clear when Poe, in a separate statement ahead of the presentation of the bill, condemned the terrorist attack on the Uri military camp in India, despite the fact there was no evidence that militants crossed the LoC, and India has also retracted its earlier statement that weapons used by the militants were of Pakistani origin. “Pakistan’s reckless behaviour in this regard is a serious security risk to its neighbours – and India unfortunately pays the price all too often. We condemn this tragic attack,” Ted Poe said.
Dana Rohrabacher and Ted Poe appear to be on the payroll of India and they are working as lobbyists. Pro-India US lawmakers had also made a failed attempt to designate Pakistan a terrorist state in 1993 after India wrongly accused Pakistan of engineering the Mumbai serial blasts through Dawood Ibrahim. In January 2016, Republican Dana Rohrabacher who chairs the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, had referred to 1971 situation that led to creation of Bangladesh. He said: “I see similar type of sentiments with the situation arising with the people of Balochistan. There are now these F-16s that the judge was talking about. Those F-16s and the military equipment that we are providing Pakistan are being used against their own people, just like they did against the people over there in Bangladesh.” In 2012, he had introduced a resolution supporting Balochistan’s independence, which was not carried, but Balochistan issue was in focus for a while.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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