Debate on Afghanistan –
Pakistan again refused participation

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani

IT is second time that Pakistan was excluded from taking part in a debate on Afghanistan on 16 August 2021. Foreign Minister of Pakistan has tweeted his disappointment on excluding Pakistan from the debate, once again.

First time on Friday 06 August 2021 UN Security Council discussed Afghanistan. Thirteen countries namely Afghanistan, Norway, Estonia, United States, Niger (on behalf of Kenya, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Mexico, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Ireland, France, United Kingdom, China and India participated in the meeting and made statements.

Deborah Lyons, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) briefed the Council.  One Afghan NGO – Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission was also invited and allowed to make a statement.

India elected as a non-Permanent Member to the UN Security Council on 17 June 2021 for two years (2021-2022) has the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of August. It is unfortunate and out of diplomatic character for any Presidency to block the attendance of a member under Rule 37 and according to Article 35 (1) of the Charter.

The Security Council neither invited Pakistan nor allowed its formal request made in writing to participate in the discussion on Afghanistan. Indian Presidency has set a very bad example and that too against Pakistan which had endorsed its candidature (As part of Asia Pacific Group) in June 2019 and voted for it in 2021.

Rule 37 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council reads “Any Member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council may be invited, as the result of a decision of the Security Council, to participate, without vote, in the discussion of any question brought before the Security Council when the Security Council considers that the interests of that Member are specially affected, or when a Member brings a matter to the attention of the Security Council in accordance with Article 35 (1) of the Charter.”

Indian candidature could have been challenged by Pakistan under Article 23 (1) of UN Charter and Rule 143 of Provisional Rules of Procedure of the Security Council. Pakistan had a point to endorse India as the single nominee of 55 member Asia Pacific Group on 26 June 2019. However, there were two alerts which Pakistan should have but unfortunately failed to pick up against India.

A general view of United Nations General Assembly

The first alert was when on 5 August 2019 when India carried out a military aggression in Kashmir and re-occupied it. The second alert was when on 31st August 2020 India called for the removal of Kashmir (India-Pakistan Question) from the UN Security Council agenda. India dared to show its true colours regardless of the fact that it had yet to be voted into as a non-Permanent Member of Security Council. Therefore, there was no justification to vote for India on 17 June 2021 and allow it to sit in the Security Council.

Pakistan should have invoked article 23 (1) of UN Charter and Rule 143 of the Rules of Procedure of Security Council. Even if Pakistan would have had no support but a debate would have been forced upon the members of the UN General Assembly. We have seen that United States and many European countries have failed to support the interests of Israel against Palestinians in the General Assembly.

In addition to the qualifications required under article 23 (1) of UN Charter and Rule 143 of the Rules of Procedure of Security Council, there was no reason that many countries would not have considered the merits of Indian candidature under articles 3, 4, 5 and 6 of UN Charter. These articles describe the manner in which a country could seek membership of the United Nations and the organization could suspend a country from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership or for a persistent violation of the principles contained in the Charter, could be expelled from the UN by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. The interpretation of membership and expulsion is explicit and simple.

Pakistan failed to pick up the alerts of 5 August 2019 and 31st August 2020. The people of IIOJK are paying the price of this easy go lucky attitude in the character of our foreign policy and now Pakistan has been humiliated during the Indian Presidency on 6 August 2021. It is an exceptional rebuke and an unfortunate expression of bad behaviour in Indian diplomacy.

India has made the use its Presidency and blocked Pakistan’s participation in a meeting, which concerned Pakistan much more than any of the countries that have participated and made statements. India has poisoned the intra-State basic decency badly required at these forums.

Pakistan was the non-Permanent Member of the Security Council from 2012- 2013 and Pakistan had the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of January 2013. During the Pakistan’s Presidency issues of Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan/South Sudan, the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, West Africa, Libya, Cyprus, the Middle East including the Palestinian question were discussed.

According to the report submitted by Pakistan on the work of its Presidency submitted to the UN Security Council, there were 16 meetings, 18 consultations, 4 Resolutions, 1 Presidential statement and 6 other statements issued. Pakistan failed to bring in Kashmir in any manner on the agenda during its Presidency. It had the golden opportunity and could have brought in Human Rights Situation in Kashmir on the agenda of the Security Council and like Afghani NGO, invited credible NGOs working on Kashmir and known to the United Nations for the last 31 years.

Pakistan’s Presidency of the month of January 2013 was squandered for others and Kashmir was ignored, in the same manner as we forgot about it from November 1965 to August 1996 for a period of 31 years. We have paid the price by losing its automatic return on the Security Council agenda. Now Pakistan has to make a request each year for Kashmir to be placed on the agenda.

It is never too late to critically and boldly examine your course of action at these forums and learn from mistakes made. India continues to be at the UN Security Council until December 2022. We shall have many more surprises and Pakistan has to rave its diplomatic engine as high as possible.

(The author is President of London based Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.)