A New Window
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.