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Pak panic & India’s road to UN - Kanwar - 11-13-2010

Pakistan is seemingly in panic over US endorsement of India's candidature as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.


Pak panic & India’s road to UN

I don't know if you read or saw the fascinating sight of the Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, with his Italian counterpart in tow, denouncing the US move; and promising that they will ensure that India's bid is a non-starter.

"I have a message for the people in Delhi - Hunooz Dilli door ast," Qureshi said, quoting Nizamuddin Auliya, Delhi's most revered Sufi saint. "It's still a long way to Delhi" - the Persian phrase often used to describe a task that cannot be easily accomplished.

But, for India's envoy to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri, Delhi was not far at all. "We are entering the Security Council (as a non-permanent member) after a gap of 19 years...we have no intentions of leaving the Security Council."

"In other words, before we complete our two-year term we will be a permanent member... This is not going to take as long as people think... it will be done more quickly," the Indian envoy asserted.

Earlier, at his press conference, Qureshi also promised that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will take up the issue during his ongoing visit to China. China is the only country who can 'veto' India's candidature, as all the other veto powers - Britain, France, Russia and, of course, the US - have already okayed the entry.

While Pakistan's and Qureshi's rant is predictable, wondered why the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was in step with the usually pompous Pakistan foreign minister? Well, therein lies a tale.

This is the way it goes: Pakistan and Italy spearhead a group of about 40 countries who are opposed to the enlargement of the UN Security Council. They call themselves the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group - read 'we don't want any of our regional rivals to get a permanent seat in the UNSC, or if we can't find a place we won't let others too, at any cost'.

Each country in the UfC opposes the UNSC reforms based on its own regional egos and Realpolitiks. For instance, in South America, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico oppose because they are bitterly against Brazil finding a permanent seat at the SC. In Europe, Italy, Netherlands and Spain are opposed to the German bid, arguing instead for a "European Union seat". In Asia, other than the Pakistan opposition to India, South Korea is opposed to a seat for Japan.

Canada is an exception in the sense that it opposes UN reforms based on voting but wants changes through "consensus". As consensus is proving elusive, it opposes the expansion of the UNSC.

These usually latent sentiments are being sought to be exploited by Pakistan to kill India's bid. Thus, in the last few days the Pakistan government has been mobilising the UfC to action. The group's members have met the President of UN General Assembly, Joseph Deiss of Switzerland, to convey their concern over President Obama's announcement of support for India's bid for an elevated status on the council.

They are even meeting US representatives telling the Americans not to be swayed by "power politics" in its support for a permanent seat for India. "Pakistan believes that US endorsement of India's bid for its permanent seat in the Security Council adds to the complexity of the process of reforms of the Council", the Pakistan foreign office.

Not about power politics, says Pakistan. Then Pakistan and Qureshi must be from some other planet. Because the UN and the Security Council membership is all about nothing but power politics, as India found out in 1996, and whatever the Pakistan Foreign Minister may put out, he is finding out now.