The last few weeks have been a momentous time at the United Nations in so many ways. In the aftermath of the Palestinian application for state recognition, the spotlight fell on the most enduring alliances in world affairs — such as the one between Israel and the United States. But there were other interesting happenings at the United Nations Plaza in New York as well. Arch-rivals India and Pakistan joined ranks as temporary members of the Security Council after Pakistan garnered 129 out of 193 votes in the General Assembly — exactly the two-thirds majority required to win the seat.
While the all-powerful veto from the five permanent members of the council (United States, Russia, China, UK and France) renders the temporary members relatively powerless, the UN Security Council pedestal is nevertheless important in times of crisis. The Security Council is the only UN body with ‘teeth’ to sanction armed intervention and votes of temporary members can make an important policy statement about world affairs. They can also be used as a means of leverage for soliciting aid and have regional repercussions for alliances between states.
It is also significant that China and India both supported Pakistan’s bid from the Asian region against regional friend Kyrgyzstan. Pakistan and India will be on the council together for one year since India’s term will expire at the end of 2012 while Pakistan’s will continue for another year. There have been three previous times that the two countries have served together on the council: 1968, 1977 and 1984. The geopolitical landscape was very different then — the Cold War was still hot and the power of multinational globalisation had not been fully unleashed on the subcontinent.
The United Nations is not as popular in India as it is in Pakistan. Recall that Pakistan loves to brandish non-compliance with UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, which is exactly why many Indians resent the forum. It is now high time that the importance of multilateralism be considered more objectively during this opportunity for Pakistan and India to serve together on the Council. Let us not let positional divisions of yesteryears prevent us from moving forward in fostering greater consensus on issues of substance.
Finally some words about UN governance through ‘country-voting’ that has come under much attack in recent days due to the Unesco admission of Palestine. The democratic process by which countries are given an opportunity to vote should be respected. This is among the few places where the weak can voice their views. To dismiss the verdict of the majority as inherently flawed — as the United States is doing in its uncompromising opposition to Palestinian membership — is misguided. If we are to operate under a nation-state model of fractured governance, we have to play by its rules. It is also quite offensive and patronising to suggest that poorer and smaller countries are somehow inherently biased against Israel or other causes with which the dominant powers may disagree. I hope Pakistan and India will also show due respect to the voice of the world on matters that they might not concur with completely.
Hopefully human societies will evolve to the point where we can have a hybrid form of global governance whereby the positive attributes of nationalism such as language, cuisine and the arts can be retained but the negative aspects of tribalism that lead to exclusion and conflict will be eroded. The European Union is a prototype for such a model but it is incomplete and asymmetric.
A multinational community without covetous countries was Gene Roddenberry’s vision in “Star Trek” and while that may always remain in the realm of science fiction, we must still yearn for such an ideal. In the words of Carl Schurz, a distinguished US Civil War general: “Ideals are like the stars, we may never reach them but like the mariners of the sea we chart our course by them”.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2011.
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@Abbas from the US:
Your most welcome.
@Abdul Rehman Gilani: And so a Pakistani goes on - "Denial is thy birth right and i shall have it forever.."
I would say to Indians dont argue too much with Pakistanis here. This newspaper is very good and is trying to foster good relations between the two countries. Therefore you should not become over argumentative with Pakistani readers. Let Pakistanis have the main say here as it is a Pakistani paper.
@Abdul Rehman Gilani:
We usually disagree on Pakistani politics and the use of religion in politics, but you are absolutely right and I need to salute you for pointing out the obvious.
@Terrorising and true:
This is more than enough to answer your junk: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/8867353/Indian-poverty-levels-higher-than-Pakistans-says-UN-report.html
Also, As BBC put it, there are more poor in india than Africa,
Simply put, even though india is higher in terms of "human development", its poverty level is worse than Pakistan. Even treatment of women is worse in "liberal, tolerant" india than "conservative" Pakistan.
And secondly If Kashmir did accede to india (and it didnt) then why did India run to the UN and agree to a plebiscite to determine Kashmiri will? LOL.
@Jawad, Let me correct you. You said, "Pakistan and India are arch rivals because of Indian Policies towards pak, always trying to isolate and weaken pakistan." No, we don't consider Pakistan as our rival, simply because you are no match to us in any field, be it economy or military might. No, we didn't isolate you, it is your jihadi policies that have made Pakistan an international pariah. "From Nuclear tests...." India is sovereign country, we don't need your permission to go nuclear. "India did not vote for Pakistan.." You are wrong again, India voted for Pakistan, just google it. "Why did you oppose EU trade deal in the first place ? no other country did,," India was not the only country to oppose EU deal, your former province and now a "biradar" country Bangladesh and Peru too opposed it. "pakistan agreed to destroy its economy by giving india MFN did india stay silent.." May I ask you a question here? Do you understand the difference between MFN and FTA (free trade agreement)? MFN means you will not discriminate that particular country while importing goods whereas, FTA means you open your market to that particular country without any restrictions. Pakistan showed guts and singed FTA with none other than mighty China! Still you have the audacity to say that granting a mere MFN status to India would destroy Pak economy! Dear sir, let me tell you that there is nothing left for India to destroy in Pakistan, because the FTA with China has already destroyed small and medium level industries in your beloved country. Finally let me come to the good old issue of Kashmir. You used every trick that was in the book and not in the book to snatch Kashmir from India, in the process you lost half of your country. Most of the current miserable state of affairs can be attributed to the Pakistan's obsession with Kashmir. Wise and sane minded people in Pakistan are now realizing this, if some don't want to see the writing on the wall, then nothing can be done about it.
@v k bajaj.how can you claim that poverty in india is lesser than pakistan.perhapes you have not read the recent report of human development index that has clearly said that poverty in pakistan is much more less as compared to india.when i see skinny,bare footed and diseased people of india in tv,i find myself lucky to be citizen of pakistan.
@V K Bajaj (New Delhi):
Fact of the matter is, that compared to india, poverty is less in Pakistan. In the recent Human Development report had already called half of india's more than 1 billion people facing a severe food crisis. Dear, kindly step out of the facade of "incredible india". In reality its "terrible india"!
And I think you should read optimists comment. Kashmir is a disputed issue agreed upon by india. And the faster india solves this issue, the more easily peace can resume in South Asia. But instead of convincing me I am wrong, the hawks of Delhi are the one who are the real roadblocks.
@Observer The denial of the Indian aspiration for security council permanent membership is yet another reason the organization is resented by many Indians. Just ask any of your diplomats. The Indian misgivings on UN security council resolutions are widely known.
@MD: Pakistan and India are arch rivals because of Indian Policies towards pak, always trying to isolate and weaken pakistan. From Nuclear tests to hostile statements .
India did not vote for Pakistan, and even if it did pakistan woulve won in a 2nd round. Pakistan voted for India last time round so you should have voted for us even though you did not.
Why did you oppose EU trade deal in the first place ? no other country did,,,so much flooding in pakistan and such a low quality EU deal yet Indians still opposed it. only when pakistan agreed to destroy its economy by giving india MFN did india stay silent
India gave pakistan MFN because it was in Indian interest look at indian exports to pakistan. India keeps many non tarrif barriers. MFN status is no normal.Does USA give MFN to Iran ?
in you dreams, india cant even bring prosperity to its self let alone Pakistan. Even in India was the richest country in the world, pakistan will never compromise its Kashmir Stance or allow india to gain influence inside pakistan
"Arch-Rivals"??? Which field are they rivals? In military might? or maybe the economic prosperity? or maybe Cricket.
I am embarrassed by the need to use such a crude word. It only re-emphasizes stereotypes.
@Saleem H Ali
The United Nations is not as popular in India as it is in Pakistan.
I thought India was campaigning very hard for a Permanent Membership of the UNSC. Perhaps you know more about India than the Indians themselves.
@Abdul Rehman Gilani:
Before putting your comments you should have understood the article and comments thereupon. Further you should have analyzed the present scenario and other impacts.
Please read as what MD and Deb has commented.
Would Pak will be able to well administer Kashmir on getting it - when at present poverty and hunger (more as compared to India) prevails through out Pak?
Would PAK say welcome to all MUSLIMS of India?
Would you ponder as why many Muslims prefer India and never thought to migrate to Pak in 1948?
Rabbani Khar is on way to normalize relations between PAK and INDIA. And she has achieved some result. Let the trade may grow between both countries. Please air your views that both PAK and INDIA should contribute as ONE at UNO and at other global organizations.
Kashmir is a real issue. We are not talking about Muslims of some other Indian city. Kashmir is disputed territory. . India is secular when it comes to Kashmir argument and Hindu when it comes to Hyderabad/Junagarh! . What you are saying is sheer RACISM and BIGOTRY (which must not be tolerated even as a sick joke/satire)!!!
Total non-event. What is the point in occupying a teeth less position? Let us not make this into “holding hands and Kumbaya” moment.
Remember this before you go to town, India helped Pakistan to get in UN security council that in turn helped to recover some of its tarnished image of brand Pakistan.
Heres to both the countries working together on something...
My Point exactly, why all countries should be apprised of what the United Nations has been there for in the first place.
@Abdul Rehman Gilani Why only Kashmir? Take all your muslim brothers and sisters (about 40 million) with it and send us all the minorities (including shias,khojas,ismailis etc.etc.).
MFN status should not be given at the cost of our interests including Kashmir.
The UN security Council should be used for rightly solving the Kashmir issue, as well as by Pakistan to play a constructive role.
It should be a mandate that all countries have a representative at all the United Nations meetings so that they all will be on the same page with the world war on terrorism, and all of the issues that are addressed at the meetings....
Yes, India's vote made it possible for Pakistan to become a member of Security Council of the UN. We, even withdrew our objections to the special trade concessions that were granted to Pakistan by the EU, in view of the devastating floods that rendered millions of Pakistanis homeless and hungry. But, the question is how did Pakistan reciprocate to India's goodwill gestures? Just by granting India a MFN status after 16 long years? Even this useless "MFN status" is being contested ferociously by the so called "ghairatmands" of Pakistani media. As one source of news report says that, a Pak Urdu newspaper's editorial described the granting of MFN status to India as worse than the Pak army's surrender at Dhaka. It is time, I think, for sane people in Pakistan, take control of the country, which is now sinking deeper and deeper into the bottomless abyss. Ordinary people in Pakistan must know that befriending India is not going to rob them of their freedom or anything else, instead it is going bring economic prosperity and peace which everyone aspires for.