Pakistan and the United Nations | Masood Khan

THE United Nations is etched into Pakistan’s memory and psyche because of the Jammu and Kashmir issue. In January 1948, India took the issue to the Security Council after occupying the bulk of the Jammu and Kashmir territory. There were three objectives of the move: to halt the uprising of the people of Jammu and Kashmir; to obtain some legal cover for its occupying forces; and to get a dispensation in its favour. It obtained the first two objectives immediately; but the United Nations took a fair decision by asking India and Pakistan to help in the organization of a plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

That plebiscite was never held because India hid behind various pretexts to first delay and then disown it. After the 1965 and 1971 wars, India convinced successive Pakistani leaders to move towards bilateralism on Jammu and Kashmir. But the people of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir up to this day consider the UN resolutions on a plebiscite in the territory sacrosanct.

The United Nations has therefore become a great symbol of hope and justice, as well as a source of disappointment. Pakistanis and Kashmiris still have great faith in the organization and hope that one day it will step forward to give justice to them.

Pakistan has also traditionally urged the United Nations to give the Palestinians their right to self-determination and statehood.

Indian leaders used to accuse Pakistan of being ‘unifocal’ and ‘unidimensional’ by being fixated on Kashmir in the UN. This is not true. Pakistan has served as a non-permanent member in the UN Security Council seven times. In this capacity, Pakistan has helped develop strategies to bring peace to the war torn countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America

Pakistan has also led the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and has been frequently elected to major UN bodies including the Human Rights Council (previously Commission on Human Rights).

Since 1960, Pakistan has contributed more than 140,000 peacekeeping troops to 41 missions in 23 countries. Pakistani peacekeepers are recognized for demonstrating highest standards of professionalism. Back in 2013, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, while visiting Pakistan, said: “More than 100 countries contribute troops and police for United Nations peacekeeping missions. Pakistan is number one. It is impossible to speak about the history of United Nations peacekeeping without highlighting such contributions of Pakistan.”

UN Security Council’s seminal resolution 2086 adopted under Pakistan’s presidency in 2013 laid down a blueprint for consolidating multidimensional approaches to peacekeeping and outlined ways to facilitate post-conflict peace building,prevent a relapse into conflict and assist progress towards sustainable peace and development.

Pakistan has played an active part in promoting sustained growth and sustainable development, particularly of thedeveloping countries, and explore ways to finance development. Pakistan is considered one of the architects of the Millennium Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals catalyst for Pakistan’s own development efforts. We have not been able to achieve most of the MDGs mainly because the last 14 year period coincided with the war on terrorism, which drained and diverted our resources. But as we are now emerging from this war, we have an opportunity to achieve the newly crafted seventeen sustainable development goals, especially those related to ending hunger and poverty, ensuring healthy lives , promoting inclusive and equitable quality education, and access to affordable and reliable, sustainable energy for all. To achieve these goals, we need to deepen our partnership with the UN and its various agencies.

In the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council, Pakistan has advocated a comprehensive approach towards elimination of terrorism. Pakistan has backed efforts to militarily oppose terrorists and dismantle their networks. At the same time, Pakistan has argued that equal vigour must be shown to deal with the conditions that lead to terrorism, build states’ capacities to prevent and fight terrorism, and adhere to international law while combating terrorism. Pakistan has also stressed that peoples’ struggles for their right to self-determination cannot be equated with terrorism; nor a religion and its followers be falsely stereotyped or associated with terrorism.

Pakistan has raised its voice in the United Nations and mobilized other nations to oppose the practices of Islamophobia.

Since 1993, repeated efforts have been made to reform the United Nations. Pakistan has succeeded in persuading a large chunk of UN membership to demand a reform that makes the UN more representative and democratic. There should be no new permanent seats as this would be tantamount to adding new oligarchs to the world order that needs more plurality.

After developing nuclear capability for credible deterrence, Pakistan has invested in nuclear security and responsible stewardship of its nuclear programme. Over the decades, it has accumulated expertise in civil uses of nuclear technology. Now we demand Pakistan entry into export control regimes, especially the Nuclear Suppliers Group, on non-discriminatory basis.

As Pakistan grows stronger, its role in the United Nations will increase. The new generation of Pakistan should explore ways to leveraging UN-led multilateralism for world peace and economic development of Pakistan.

The writer is a former ambassador of Pakistan to UN and at present Director General Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad


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