KARACHI: Reflecting on ‘Pakistan and the UN: Challenges to Multilateralism and Opportunities’ during a talk organised by the Roundtable on Sunday, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that there is a need for reform within the UN Security Council.
She said the UN is a unique platform, which is sometimes undervalued. “Representing your country among the 193 nations there, not many of which we have diplomatic relations with, is an extraordinary experience,” she said, adding that the world today is in a lot of disarray, where you see increasing multi-polarities. “There is no single power in the world that can achieve on its own. It has to ally and partner or cooperate with others to achieve whatever goal that they may have,” she pointed out.
“There is a strategic uncertainty with power redistributed globally. The very notion of power is changing. It is not just military strength or economic strength that determines a country’s standing in the world. It is also, as we all know, your ability to appeal through means other than military or economic strength. This is not to say that military and economic strength doesn’t matter. It is necessary but it is no longer sufficient. Look at the way countries like Singapore and Ireland empower themselves by the way they project themselves in the world, and how they project their culture and music.”
She said that there are countries trying to change the game through ad hoc alliances. “Successful countries having good diplomacy will be quick to ally. You need to see who you need to ally with for which issue.”
“So countries need to know how to leverage. What you need are skills in the foreign ministry. I can say with conviction that we have the people who can absorb those skills. We just need to reconceptualise what we need to do.”
Going on to how all these factors affect the UN, she said that it is all reflected in the working and dynamics of the Security Council. “Pakistan should have a profile on every issue,” she said. “Still, when the Security Council meets to discuss its primary responsibility which is maintaining international peace, you see that it is often paralysed. For instance, the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was not even discussed.”
Coming to Pakistan, Dr Lodhi said that “Pakistan enjoys much respect at the UN because we joined it within months of independence”.
“It was smart as what we were able to do then was that getting our independence earlier than many countries in Africa and even in Asia made us leaders in the diplomacy process of these countries. They looked up to Pakistan,” she explained. “Outstanding extraordinary diplomats like Shamshad Akhtar, Dr Nafees Sadiq, Jamshed Marker who had outstanding outreach, also left a good impression.”
In hard power, she pointed out how Pakistan sends its troops for peacekeeping to countries under the UN umbrella. “UN’s secretary general is so grateful to Pakistan for this. That’s the leverage you have there. The question is how to use that leverage,” she said, adding that since 1960, Pakistan has sent 200,000 troops who have served in 46 nations and 38 countries around the world.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2020