By Senator Rehman Malik
Last week I received an SOS message from the senate Secretariat to fly and address the joint UNO – IPU conference on Counter Terrorism. The visa was arranged within just few hours and I managed to reach Belarus to attend the said conference in time.
I would like to write some details about Minsk, the capital city of Belarus where the said conference was arranged. I want to admire the beauty of this country and present description of Belarus as a country.
Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Minsk is the capital of Belarus and also the most populous city of the country. Over 40% of its area is forested and beautifully maintained.
Belarus declared independence on 25th August 1991. Alexander Lukashenko has been serving as the Country’s President since 1994. Belarus mostly imports crude oil, machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, iron and steel, and food and live animals. It has attained expertise in IT sector and has been managing the country with their Modern IT Technology.
The country owns a middle class economy and city; streets main roads are extra ordinarily clean. The buildings constructed in Belarus during Russian era are still intact. The old architecture in Minsk reminded me of Russian Tsar(King) Nicholas II’s time when Belarus was a part of Russian Empire and was also directly involved in First World War.
This city was destroyed 11 times in the history but the local people brought it back to its old historical shape. I didn’t see a single person over there who was not smiling also there was no one to throw garbage on the streets as they appeared to be civilized nation.
Now I would like to make a few comments on IPU which is the international organization of Parliaments (Article 1 of the Statutes of the Inter-Parliamentary Union). It was established in 1889. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. There are currently 173 Members and 11 Associate Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is the political head of the Organization and is elected to the post by the IPU Membership through its Governing Council. Gabriela Cuevas Barron is a Mexican politician and the current President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. She also attended the conference and subsequently we both met the foreign minister and others together.
I found her to be a highly competent lady who had great regard for Pakistan. On 18 October 2017, Cuevas Barron was elected as the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the first female from the Americas.
The IPU has been helping parliaments around the world strength their capacity to better serve their people by following democracy for over four decades. They work in partnership with over 65 parliaments and have delivered punctual support as well as hundreds of fully fledged projects around the world to promote democratic international relations.
They get funding from the United Nations Development Programme (through agreements with individual country offices), the European Union, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and parliaments themselves.
While attending a much different session among the world leaders, I have made some sharp observations region wise in general.
The High-level Conference was based on “Counter-Terrorism and the Use of New and Emerging Technologies”, co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism which brought 400 participants from 55 countries. The President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Counter Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, The President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Gabriela Cuevas Barron, the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Thomas Greminger, and the Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Sergey Lebedev were also present in the opening ceremony.
Upon my turn to address the meeting, I posed a question about Kashmir and some of the participants did not even know about it. Some of the alarming as well as interesting questions made me realize that there are no effective and result oriented briefings.
This is not a complaint because, I feel that as Senior Politician I must put my observations as I did not find any major contribution from Pakistani officers deployed there in this UN-IPU conference and found them to be highly unconcerned like typical Bureaucrats of status quo with no extra contribution as no intervention was seen by the Pak official in Kashmir issue. These officers were nominated by the MOFA for this conference.
This was understood to me during the conference that MOFA has not yet activated the ministry fully to explore every available Platform. Anyhow, I took up the actions of PM Modi & Kashmir issue not only in this conference but I also met the Foreign Minister of Belarus and briefed him about the recent Indian illegal acts in Kashmir and the curfew thereof etc.
I injected the issue of Kashmir based on Human rights violations in both of my speeches, though the chairperson was not comfortable with it but I managed to present my stance and got a very good response from countries present there.
I also informed them about the great role of Pakistan in “War on Terror” and how we have lost uncountable number of lives and loss of lives fighting it which was widely reported on local as well as on International media.
I am worried about this defensive policy of Foreign office as to why MOFA has not activated all its resources to highlight Kashmir case.
I not only condemned the change of status of Kashmir but also elaborated ethnic cleansing during the meeting with the National Security Advisor, The Foreign Minister Kazikistan, Mr. Beibut Atamkulov and also the USA Ambassador nominated for this conference who has been designated as the ambassador in UNSC as well.
They seemed concerned but did not have the Pakistan and Kashmir narrative. The entire political leadership from all over the world appreciated my paper on Counter terrorism and my tactful induction of Kashmir based on violation of human rights with suggestion for a high powered commission to Kashmir.
India once tried block me during a round table meeting but failed as I took cover the control of South Asian peace through SAARC. I see a great space and thrust in the international community to know more of the brutalities happening in Kashmir.
I hope MOFA gets out of the apprehensive syndrome and gets on the fast track before the PM’s speech in UNO to create a strong lobby in favour of Pakistan among the members states of UNO.
My very detailed interactions suggested me that if the MOFA does not move fast track they will embarrass the PM as well as the nation in the UNO and other International forums. The main difference between these developing nations and us is that we live in status quo and hardly make any constructive and positive contribution towards our national issues and nation building.
I want readers to mark my words that the day curfew is lifted in Kashmir we will be again driven in to status quo and start looking for some divine help but we will not chalk out any long term planning both at diplomatic and International legal fronts.
We have wasted National 70 years playing on pitch set by successive Indian Governments and its intelligence agencies. It looks that Modi will lure us into new pitch on Kashmir with the support of USA which will further complicate Kashmir issue for us.
The Government has not been able to draw any visible policy to put pressure on India. It must at least drag Modi as a war criminal according to Rome convention towards International Criminal Court with proper charge sheet based on International human rights violation in Kashmir which will make Indian version weaker.
PM will have to speak out of the box and not on the basis of mainstream speeches written by bureaucrats. I hope PM will go to the UNO with substantive evidence of brutalities in J&K.
(The author is former Interior Minister of Pakistan and presently Chairman, Pak Senate Standing Committee on Interior Affairs. He is alsoChairman of Think Tank “Global Eye He can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter @Senrehmanmalik.)