Prime Minister Abbasi did Nawaz Sharif proud at the United Nations. Indeed, he gave the speech that the latter is still likely kicking himself for not having had the opportunity, never mind the courage, to deliver back in Riyadh over the summer.
The PM maintained the moral high ground pretty much throughout. Which is relatively rare for a Pakistani leader, especially at world forums. This is not necessarily an unjustly harsh comment on the political prowess of those who sit rather precariously in the hot seat, more often than not unable to fully settle comfortably as they wait nervously to be booted out by non-democratic forces that now may or may not include the courts. It is simply a timely reminder that the glass is only half full if no one else has supped from it.
Mr Abbasi started off by pointing out that unilateral force is often the preferred course of action, leaving collective security under the UN banner by the wayside, forsaken and forlorn. He was right to do so. For this wasn’t an indictment exclusively restricted to the Trump regime and the use of drones, though it was an outright rejection of the latter’s interpretation of the world body through the myopic Unilateral Nation lens. For Pakistan has been here many times before. What started with Bush junior continued under Obama, that most hawkish of doves, and has now reached fever pitch with Trump, a most undecidedly unquiet American.
It would be easy to dismiss PM Abbasi’s detailed focus on Indian atrocities in -held Kashmir as merely playing to the home crowd. In a bid to deflect from us the US terrorism focus. And while this can’t be ruled out - indeed, it would be odd if this were not at least part of the political agenda - we strongly feel that it is only right and proper that Kashmir be finally put back on the UN table. And what better platform is there to call for revisiting the UNSC resolution on the plebiscite for self-determination. And what a smart move overall to put the ball entirely in the world body’s court by calling for the UN chief to prioritise the appointing of a Special Envoy to the disputed region.
This potentially puts Indian democracy on trial as well as the writ of the UN itself, at a time when renewed calls for reform at the latter are only becoming louder. Though we won’t hold our breath, it also underscores how this is a PM who isn’t only interested in point scoring. Sure, that was there, too, in his legitimate terming of gun pelting by Indian forces and the use of rape as an instrument of state policy as war crimes. But he was entirely right when he said that these violate the Geneva Conventions. Actually, he should have gone the whole hog and mentioned that rape as a war crime is considered a form of ethnic cleansing, as per the aforementioned provisions.
The fear is that Mr Abbasi might be gone from Pakistan’s top spot by this time next year. And that whoever comes in next may lose the momentum on the idea of a UN Special Envoy to Kashmir. If that were to happen then we would stand rightly accused of blatant exploitation of a people’s suffering to ‘justify’ our use of militant proxies. And then things would be worse for everyone. Especially the Kashmiris. And that is something that we don’t want. For we’ve said as much. On a world stage that doesn’t get bigger than the General Assembly.
Daily Times, September 23, 2017