Observations on PM Nawaz Sharif Speech in UN by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif spoke at the United Nations today. Here are brief comments on his speech that are both positives and negatives.

Positives of the speech:

  1. Despite pressure from India, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took a strong stand on Kashmir conflict. He outlined the legitimacy of Pakistan’s rights and the human rights violation committed by Indian armed forces. He appealed to the world community to support the cause of the Kashmiri people.
  2. He demanded democratization of UN Security Council which is important. There were other world leaders that have also called for reforms in the UN system including Turkey, Brazil, and Bolivia just to name few.
  3. He outlined the social priorities of his government including introduction of universal healthcare and economic progress through trade rather than aid.
  4. On Syrian crisis government of Pakistan has taken the correct position that sovereignty and integrity of Syria should be respected. He also requested Syrian government and opposition to engage in talks through Geneva II track to resolve political issues rather than resort to violence.
  5. He outlined that the foreign policy priority of his government will be to introduce peace and stability in the region. He express satisfaction that PM of India has reciprocated his invitation to meet on the sidelines of UN General Assembly.

Negatives of the speech:

  1. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke for just 42 seconds about drone strikes. He did not use the words “violation of sovereignty”.  He did not give any account of humanitarian tragedy resulting from collateral damage which consequently produces extremism. He did not request the world body to support the resolution being promoted by Pakistan to create an international platform against uncontrolled use of drones. He did not sought compensation for people who are affected by these drone strikes.
  1. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assured the world community that Pakistan wants a peaceful and stable Afghanistan without preference for any particular group. He said that Pakistan, as a neighbor, is against outside intervention in Afghanistan and will work with all groups to achieve peace. He said that Afghan peace process should be “Afghan lead and Afghan owned”. I have an issue with this formulation of foreign policy. Pakistan has sacrificed 40,000 people and suffered an estimated US$100 billion loss to economy because of Afghan war. This makes us a stakeholder in the Afghan issue. We should promote the formation of an international platform which is led by Afghanistan in collaboration with Pakistan and USA. This platform should seek support of China, Russia, Turkey, European Union, Iran and Saudi Arabia for post-2014 scenario. The objective of this platform should be to develop a political structure that results in an Afghanistan that has a stable economy and sustainable social structure. Pakistan should be given an opportunity to participate in the reconstruction of Afghanistan as well as training of its armed forces.
  1. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also missed an opportunity to seek the support of world community for the sacrifices of Pakistan in the war on terror. He did not inform the world community that Pakistan is wrongly blamed for terror incidents in which no creditable evidence is provided by the accuser. And in some cases it turns out to be an inside job of the countries where these incidents happen.
  1. As the second largest country of the Muslim bloc Prime Minister of Pakistan failed to inform the world community that most of the conflicts today involve a Muslim country. But Muslims do not have an adequate presence in the UN Security Council to speak on their behalf. African and South American continents have similar grievances. If not resolved through reorganization of UN Security Council this could damage the viability of UN as a neutral arbiter in the long run.

Bottom line is that it was a weak speech that lacked substance and did not present the case of Pakistan effectively. I hope that the opposition parliamentarians especially Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI) will highlight these diplomatic failures of the Prime Minister’s speech in the house.

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