A New Win­dow

Southasia - - News - Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Pak­istan is back in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil as a non-per­ma­nent mem­ber for a two year term (2012- 2013). This is for the sev­enth time that the coun­try will be serv­ing on the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. To many, Pak­istan’s win­ning a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat may have been a lost cause since the coun­try was be­ing con­sid­ered as iso­lated on the in­ter­na­tional plat­form. There was also a feel­ing that the US pre­ferred not to have Pak­istan in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil at a time when it is or­ches­trat­ing the endgame in Afghanistan and Pak­istan’s pres­ence in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil would give it the op­por­tu­nity to lever­age in­ter­na­tional opinion in its own fa­vor. How­ever, Pak­istan, in win­ning the UNSC seat, suc­ceeded in achiev­ing the req­ui­site two-thirds ma­jor­ity by virtue of 129 votes from 193 Gen­eral Assem­bly mem­bers. Its clos­est ri­val was Kyr­gyzs­tan, which got just 55 votes. In some part, Pak­istan owes its suc­cess to In­dia, which acted in a spirit of rec­i­proc­ity as Pak­istan had backed it last year in win­ning the UNSC seat for the 2011-2012 term.

Pak­istan’s ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence and ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in the UN sys­tem makes it uniquely qual­i­fied to con­trib­ute to­wards ad­dress­ing cur­rent world is­sues. Since en­ter­ing the United Na­tions in 1947, the coun­try has al­ways shown a strong com­mit­ment to­wards mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism and pro­mot­ing the prin­ci­ples and pur­poses en­shrined in the UN Char­ter. As a non-per­ma­nent mem­ber of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for six terms in the past, Pak­istan has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the UN’S work. Most sig­nif­i­cantly, over the last 50 years, Pak­istan has been a lead­ing con­trib­u­tor to the United Na­tions Peace­keep­ing Forces. Cur­rently, it has over 9,000 troops and other per­son­nel de­ployed with eight UN Peace­keep­ing Mis­sions around the world.

It au­gurs well for South Asia that Pak­istan now shares a place in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil with In­dia. This of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to both coun­tries to work in close col­lab­o­ra­tion in ad­dress­ing var­i­ous re­gional and in­ter­na­tional is­sues. There may be a snag, how­ever, when Pak­istan takes ad­van­tage of its new po­si­tion and at­tempts to re­vive a dis­cus­sion on Kash­mir - an is­sue that has con­tin­ued to elude a work­able so­lu­tion for more than six decades. For its part, In­dia, which al­ready sits in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, has wel­comed Pak­istan’s re-en­try to the UNSC. This en­cour­ages hope that the two South Asian neigh­bors will take ad­van­tage of this new win­dow to work to­gether on dis­putes of bi­lat­eral na­ture as well is­sues that have a wider bear­ing for South Asia, such as fight­ing poverty and cor­rup­tion, curb­ing mil­i­tancy and coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism.

Pak­istan has al­ready made a pos­i­tive ges­ture to­wards In­dia by ex­tend­ing to it the Most Favoured Na­tion (MFN) sta­tus in bi­lat­eral trade. The Pak­istani busi­ness com­mu­nity had been op­pos­ing the con­ces­sion for In­dia for the past 15 years but it seems bet­ter sense has pre­vailed and a new chap­ter has been opened in trade re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries. It is an­tic­i­pated that this spirit of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two tra­di­tional ri­vals will lead to the open­ing of new av­enues of pros­per­ity and progress in South Asia.

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