Old India Itch Gives Pak A Red Face In UN22 November 2010
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
New York: A politically correct effort by the United Nations to mollify Islamabad for what its top diplomat here peevishly described as an “inadvertent” omission of Kashmir from the annual report of the Security Council has, in fact, made Pakistan the laughing stock in the world body. The conciliatory gesture by Farhan Haq, acting deputy spokesperson for the UN secretary-general last week has, instead, drawn attention to documents revealing that Pakistan has surreptitiously kept “alive” at the UN Hyderabad’s merger with India and the secession of East Pakistan to form Bangladesh. An Arab diplomat at the UN, who would normally have been sympathetic to Islamabad exclaimed that “not many people even in Pakistan any longer remember that there was once a dispute between newly-independent India and Pakistan over how Hyderabad became a part of India.” Reflecting a popular view among the UN’s membership, he regretted that Pakistan has now been caught misusing the outdated and obsolete procedures at the UN to keep alive its obsession with India and in the process weaken the credibility of the UN as a body which ought to be dealing with genuine, current threats to peace instead of a single country’s hobby horses. The unexpected and rapid turn of events here stemmed from a complaint by Pakistan’s acting permanent representative to the UN, Amjad Hussain Sial, in the General Assembly a fortnight ago that “an inadvertent omission” in the annual report of the Security Council had left out Kashmir as “one of the oldest disputes on agenda of the Security Council.” Responding to a predictable uproar in Pakistan that Kashmir is no longer on the Council’s agenda, Haq told reporters that the Indo- Pakistan dispute, “by a decision of the Council, remains on the list for this year” of issues which have not been eliminated altogether from its purview. But Haq’s helpful gesture towards Pakistan has actually opened a Pandora’s Box for Asif Ali Zardari’s fragile government in Islamabad, whose diplomats are now scurrying to overcome the embarrassment caused for them at the UN from a logical fallout of Haq’s clarification. Haq quoted from Security Council documents to bolster a firm assertion by Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN here, Abdullah Hussain Haroon that “the (current) president of the Security Council... the UK, is amply clear on the subject and is cognisant of the matter.” Haroon, who is under severe criticism from hardliners in Pakistan for his civility and a working relationship in dealings with the Indian mission to the UN, issued an urgent appeal from Karachi to “all concerned not to speculate unnecessarily upon the subject” in an effort to quell the uproar. But matters are only likely to get worse for Haroon and his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on this issue because the documents quoted by the UN spokesperson reveal that the last time the Security Council took Kashmir into account in any of its deliberations was in November 1965. The document, an annual “statement by the secretary-general on matters of which the Security Council is seized and on the stage reached in their consideration”, has two parts. The first part is commonly known as the “seizure list” because it lists items, which the Security Council has been seized of at some point in the last three years. That active list of the Council’s agenda does not mention Jammu and Kashmir even by implication. An Indian diplomat here joked that he was not surprised that this year’s “seizure list” is causing seizures in Pakistan because it is clear that the UN is no longer seized of the Kashmir issue. No country other than Pakistan is interested in it and even Islamabad has been unable to raise it in the Security Council. A second part of the document “sets out those items which were identified in the summary statement for 2009 as matters of which the Security Council was seized and which have not been considered by the Council at a formal meeting during the (last) three-year period.” It explains that “the list indicates the date on which each item was first taken up by the Council at a formal meeting, and the date of the most recent formal Council meeting held on that item.” It amply makes clear that “the India-Pakistan question” - since Kashmir in not mentioned by name even here - was first brought before the Council in January 1948 and has not figured on the Security Council’s active agenda since November 1965. Pakistan’s desperation to somehow bring Kashmir back on the UN’s agenda is, therefore, understandable since it is an issue that every other country considers as a dead letter. In 2008, in an effort to streamline the work of the UN and to make the Security Council more effective, it was decided that items “which have not been considered by the Council at a formal meeting during the (previous) three-year period” would be completely removed from its purview. Accordingly, at the beginning of this year, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon sent out a circular which mentioned Jammu and Kashmir among the items due for such deletion unless at least one UN member requested otherwise by February 28. On January 7, Pakistan’s permanent representative shot off a letter to the secretary-general and the president of the Security Council demanding that the so-called India-Pakistan question be retained for another year. No other country was interested in such retention. Haroon’s letter also demanded that the dispute over Hyderabad and the situation in the Indian sub-continent in 1971 should remain under the purview of the Council. By stating the legalistic position on Kashmir, Haq may have hoped to give Pakistani diplomats here some room for manoeuvre. But what it has achieved is to expose the severe limits of Pakistan’s diplomacy at the UN and to highlight the anachronism of its unforgiving antagonism to India even on matters which the rest of the world considers as settled.