Pakistan abstains from vetoed UN vote on Syria sanctions

Published: July 19, 2012
Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari. The UN voted on resolutions calling for sanctions on Syria. PHOTO: REUTERS

Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari. The UN voted on resolutions calling for sanctions on Syria. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS: Even though Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad if he does not end the use of heavy weapons, Pakistan, which reportedly has suffered from an internal row with its permanent ambassador, abstained.

Pakistan was represented by the acting permanent Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar. Explaining Pakistan’s position, he said that Pakistan saw that unity needed on the matter was not witnessed, and there was a lack of “constructive spirit” in the run up to the draft resolution being put to a vote.

It was the third time in nine months that Russia and China have used their powers as permanent members of the council to block resolutions on Syria, and called into question the future of UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace mission.

There were 11 votes in favor, Russia and China’s votes against with South Africa the other country which abstained from casting a vote.

“The United Kingdom is appalled at the veto of Russia and China,” said Britain’s UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant, whose country took the lead in writing up the resolution.

“The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime. They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians,” Lyall Grant told the council after the veto.

“It is clear that Russia only aims to give more time to the Syrian regime to crush the opposition,” said France’s envoy Gerard Araud. He added that the Annan peace mission was now threatened.

“Refusing Annan the means of pressure that he asked for is to threaten his mission,” Araud told the Council.

The British text, backed by the United States, France, Germany and Portugal, called for non-military sanctions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if Assad does not withdraw heavy weapons from Syrian cities in 10 days.

Chapter VII of the charter permits the Security Council to impose sanctions and, should they fail, to pursue tougher action.

However the sanctions were only a threat and would have needed a new resolution, western envoys stressed.

The sanctions proposal was added to a resolution on renewing the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) whose 90-day mandate ends on Friday.

Without a resolution, the UN may have to hurriedly withdraw the nearly 300 unarmed observers now in Damascus.

The UNSMIS operation has been suspended since June 16 because of the mounting violence.

Russia had said it could not accept sanctions or any action under Chapter VII and has proposed a counter-resolution which would just renew the UNSMIS mandate.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama spoke by telephone about the resolution on Wednesday, but failed to overcome differences on UN action.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had accused western countries of using “blackmail” by linking the sanctions with the renewal of the UNSMIS mission.

More than 17,000 people have been killed since an uprising against Assad began 16 months ago, activists say. The Security Council faces growing criticism over its failure to take action.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon and international envoy Annan had called on the Council to unite and take strong action on Syria in the hours ahead of the vote.

Ban said there was an “extreme urgency” for action to make government and opposition forces halt the violence. Annan said the council must take “decisive” action on the conflict.

India’s ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said it was “regrettable” that the council had not sent a united message to the Syrian leadership to back Annan. He said council powers had acted on their “national interests”.

Pakistan, which abstained, said that urgent action must be taken to make sure UNSMIS stays in Syria.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Ali tanoli
    Jul 19, 2012 - 9:55PM

    what a shame pakistan dont see seventeen thousand innocents deaths what a shame….


  • Hussain
    Jul 19, 2012 - 11:02PM

    Bigger shame is that USA, Germany, France, UK and UN do not see mass killing of Muslims in Barma. Why there is no action or resolution being taken on Barma or wherever innocent Muslims are being killed.

    UN is a US lap dancer and do what they are told. Pakistan did right thing to abstain from voting.


  • Abdulla diwana
    Jul 19, 2012 - 11:11PM

    @ Ali Tanoli: Pakistan can see and invent deaths only in Kashmir and nowhere else.
    @ Husaiin: Its your all whether friend China who is the closest to Burma and not the western nations. Ever heard China saying anything against Burma? Has your government said anything about Burma? Has OIC brought any resolution against Burma? Burma is a ASEAN member also. have Malaysia also. Indonesia said anything or done anything to address what you mention? Moreover, do you think Burmese Muslims are innocent?


  • Hafiz
    Jul 19, 2012 - 11:27PM

    Good decision by Pakistan foreign ministry. Now, at least, Pakistan are observing that the world has been divided into two parts on Syrian issue. One who supports the rebels (Free Syrian Army and Jihadists) in Syria and the other one who supports a peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis and struggling to protect that region from the destabilization and more bloodshed.
    @Ali tanoli, Please search more and then tell us who are responsible for these deaths..


  • bangash
    Jul 20, 2012 - 12:05AM

    Shame on Pakistan !! Syrians are being murdered daily by Bashar Assad regime and Pakistan as well as impotent Muslim ummah is unconcerned.


  • Jul 20, 2012 - 12:18AM

    Why is our government too incompetent to take a firm stand on an issue of regional importance? Can’t upset America, can’t upset China.


  • antanu g
    Jul 20, 2012 - 12:22AM

    @Ali tanoli:

    and in absence of VETO , US & ITS western cronies would have got the licence to kill millions like in Iraq to avenge 17000 victims..


    Jul 20, 2012 - 12:25AM

    We in Pakistan are already suffering from terrorist attacks from Afgan Talibans/Al-qaida and Indian Raw agency and are in so much debt that our economy is at the lowest level. Pakistan sees innocent deaths in its own territory and as well as in the world. We do see what is going on in Syria but it was a good decision as we would like to see peaceful resolution rather than imposing sanctions or waging unnecessary war on Syria. We stand neutral on this issue. The truth is that without Saudi Arabia or other Arab nation’s involvement this will not get resolved. Arab league needs to get involve and tell Asad to quit and also talk to separatists that they are killing their own people in the name of freedom.


  • Cautious
    Jul 20, 2012 - 12:28AM

    What’s the point in holding a prestigious seat on the UN security council if your going to just take up space and not vote?


  • LionOfPunjab
    Jul 20, 2012 - 12:36AM

    Everybody was up in arms when there were 100s of muslim brothers were killed in Burma. But more than 15000 muslim brothers get butchered by a despotic Syrian government and we dont care!!!
    And we wonder why the world doesnt take us pakistanis/muslims seriously! What a shame!!
    I have suspicion that the establishment is taking dictation from the chinese and russians as they are the ones against UN sanctions. Shame! shame!


  • Khan
    Jul 20, 2012 - 1:15AM

    Chhaa gyaaaaa Zardari!!! A great decision by the ppp government..The crisis can only be resolved when Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Ankara stops funding so-called liberators and freedom fighters who r actually Al-qaeda freaks destroying the most pluralistic tolerant society in the entire middle-east! @Ali those figures r way exaggerated. I think u’ve been watching Fox and BBC alot lately “BOYY”!


  • Ghairat brigade from the Alamo
    Jul 20, 2012 - 1:56AM

    come and take it……………….


  • Abdullah
    Jul 20, 2012 - 3:14AM

    Pakistan as a muslim country has to send its SGS commandos to syria to make peace between government & Free syrian rebels. we have to tell them that all sides are muslims and dont fight each other.


  • Malik
    Jul 20, 2012 - 4:30AM

    Bismillah. Shameful. Resentful. Furious. Wake up Mohmineen of Pakistan, and stop kowtowing to idol nations – Russia and China. As super Muslim power we need to tighten the reign on Assad the killer. But first we need inspiration and uprising from Allah Subhanwa’tallah. Inshallah it will come soon.


  • Azeem
    Jul 20, 2012 - 5:15AM

    Prestigious ? only in the mind of Indians.
    The FSA have been demanding MQM style protection fee from Business and CIA is all over Syria. We saw the failed state Libya has become,1000s arrested, black people tortured and rape.

    Pakistan will should not legalise aggression.If you think abstain is wasted vote, you nothing about International Diplomacy. Pakistan should stay neutral.


  • Azeem
    Jul 20, 2012 - 5:18AM

    @Abdulla diwana:
    China and Burma have many disputes, what do you know ? Even Brazil,South Africa,Venezuela all opposed US Foreign Intervention under the guise of ‘Humanitarian Intervention’/’ WMDS” Burma has been holding elections and moving to western camp. Gulf Countries only care when American interests are threatened. Your a hypocrite, the rest of the muslim world doe care about Burma, its unfortunate we under attack from CIA and RAW otherwise we could take a firmer stand on the issue


  • Azeem
    Jul 20, 2012 - 5:21AM

    Even Brazil,South Africa,Venezuela all opposed US Foreign Intervention under the guise of ‘Humanitarian Intervention’/’ WMDS” . Syria like Libya is a Muslim Civil War.Its best if Pakistan remains neutral. Neutrality is the best way forward.
    6,000 Syrian Troops have died, the violence is not all One way. Many Muslim in Syria live in Goverment territory and are safe, many times the western media have lied.The Syrian ARmy only targets homes and areas where you have terrorist, when the areas are cleared people are allowed to move back in. Some die in crossfire but this is fault of FSA who dont let them leave or use them as human shields.

    “UN:Syria: Military operation in Tremseh not a massacre”


  • Sonya
    Jul 20, 2012 - 9:06AM

    Abstinence is short of rejecting but I am happy to note Pakistan is little closer to making decisions without Saudi influence.


  • GhostRider
    Jul 20, 2012 - 9:41AM

    dude Zia regime is over…wake up


  • John
    Jul 20, 2012 - 9:58AM

    We should first become good Muslims then worry about Ummah.

    Our own house needs quite a lot of cleaning.


  • j. von hettlingen
    Jul 20, 2012 - 4:40PM

    India’s ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri regretted “that the council had not sent a united message to the Syrian leadership to back Annan” and said council members had only their own “national interests” in mind. Why couldn’t he criticise China and Russia more openly? By the way, why did India veto against the UN Resolution 1973 in March 2011 over the Libyan crisis?


  • j. von hettlingen
    Jul 20, 2012 - 4:44PM

    India’s ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri regretted “that the council had not sent a united message to the Syrian leadership to back Annan” and said council members had only their own “national interests” in mind. Why couldn’t he criticise China and Russia more openly? By the way, why did India abstain in voting for the UN Resolution 1973 in March 2011, which allowed the imposition of a “No-fly zone”?


  • usmanx
    Jul 21, 2012 - 3:43AM

    cautious the most pak-obsessed indian on the face of the earth..


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