Pakistan is one of a handful of countries (including India, Brazil, and South Africa) that routinely oppose the United States in multilateral debates despite strong bilateral ties to the U.S.
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C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 001154 SIPDIS SIPDIS NOFORN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2016 TAGS: PREL, PTER, PHUM, ECON, AORC, KUNR, UNGA, UNSC, PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTAN AND THE U.S.: BILATERAL TIES NOT REFLECTED IN MULTILATERAL FORA
REF: USUN 1073
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Bolton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary and Comment: This cable, which focuses on Pakistan's opposition to U.S. positions and interests at the UN, is the second in a series. Like Egypt -- the first UN member state reviewed by USUN (reftel) -- Pakistan is one of a handful of countries (including India, Brazil, and South Africa) that routinely oppose the United States in multilateral debates despite strong bilateral ties to the U.S. Unlike Egypt, however, Pakistan has managed to cultivate a false image of constructive engagement among other delegations in New York, personified by Permanent Representative Munir Akram, even while working to block key U.S. priorities. Pakistan effectively uses its membership in the G-77, the NAM, the Asia Group, and the OIC to project its views and achieve greater influence at the UN than its standing in the international community would otherwise suggest.
2. (C/NF) While much of its behavior in New York may reflect Pakistan's rivalry with India and its desire to block a permanent Indian seat on the UNSC, the positions Pakistan adopts to curry favor with other member states often put it in direct opposition to U.S. policies. A statistical analysis of Pakistan's voting record at the UNGA illustrates this point. Pakistan's voting correlation with the U.S. in the UNGA has been on a downward trend since 1996 and reached a record low of 17.4 percent last year. From 2001-2005, Pakistan's overall voting correlation with the U.S. was 21.9 percent, just below the UN median of 22.8. This ranked it 108th out of 190 member states. Pakistan was 62nd of 190 member states on disarmament and security issues, 99th on decolonization, 170th on human rights issues, and 174th on Palestine / Middle East votes.
3. (C) The net result is a paradoxical asymmetry on par with our relationship with Egypt: Pakistan,s actions at the UN may embolden other member states to oppose U.S. positions when they see a &friend of the U.S.8 doing the same with impunity. (The fact that despite all this the U.S. provides to Pakistan annual assistance that is nearly twice the amount of our entire annual assessed contribution to the UN is not lost on many.) This point was certainly not lost on Deputy SYG Mark Malloch Brown when he observed that Pakistan and Egypt form the core of opposition to meaningful reform at the UN ) perhaps as a means of &balancing8 their friendship with the U.S. in the eyes of those parts of their publics that do not support U.S. policy (2006 USUN 994). Below are some of the issue areas in which Pakistan has opposed key U.S. objectives at the UN since September. End Summary and Comment.
Budget and Management Reform
4. (C) In the run-up to the September 2005 High-Level Event, Akram took the lead in opposing SYG Annan's push to include management reform in the Outcome Document (2005 USUN 2111). He argued that management reforms should be "the outgrowth of an objective analysis across the spectrum of the organization's operations," and "not in response to criticisms that are often intentionally provocative and unfair." While recognizing the importance of external oversight, he challenged the need to create a new independent advisory oversight committee given the prior establishment of the Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS). He also took issue with Annan's call for sufficient flexibility and authority to redeploy posts and resources, insisting that reallocation of resources is an issue that only member states can decide.
5. (C) The widespread perception of Akram as a powerful naysayer on management reform in general led GA President Eliasson to recommend him as one of the two co-chairs (along with Canadian PR Rock) of the GA's overall working group on management reform. Other reform proponents, including the Japanese, encouraged this appointment, arguing to USUN that it was the only way to keep Akram "inside the tent" (and presumably away from economic issues). Given his knowledge of UN rules and regulations and the perception of the Pakistani mission as a "trustworthy" mediator who could deliver, Akram was understood to have the ability to single-handedly derail the reform process if not co-opted.
Canadian PR Rock has since come to rue Akram,s appointment, however, due to Akram,s insistence that he is &a G-77 member first and co-chair second.8
6. (C) Before agreeing to review existing mandates, Akram has long demanded "confidence- building8 assurances, including that any savings from reform be used to fund new development- related programs and that overall spending levels not be cut
-- positions that helped bring the division between the G-77 and the developed world into early and sharp relief (2005 USUN 2111 and 2006 USUN 264). Pakistan also joined Egypt and other NAM states in insisting that "politically sensitive mandates" (i.e., the mandates that authorize biased Palestinian committees) be declared off-limits to the review process until some later date. When pressed on when this date might arrive, Akram replied dismissively &never.8 He even claimed that were the U.S. to accept such preconditions for mandate review, the exercise would still ultimately lead nowhere.
7. (C) Akram has also been an advocate of the principle that no mandates established more than five years ago but which have been renewed within the last five years should be subject to the mandate review process. (This position would limit the review process to only seven percent of the total mandates, excluding those that cost the organization the most money.) As the co-chair of the mandate review working group, Akram feigned impartiality, but was a force behind the scenes promoting positions inimical to U.S. interests. He concluded in one private meeting that his position would not deviate from the G-77 line (which his delegation helps to develop).
ECOSOC and Development
8. (C) Seeing itself as a prime mover in ECOSOC after its term as President of the body in 2005, Pakistan has persuaded ECOSOC and the GA to adopt positions on development, trade, and social issues at odds with the interests of the U.S. and other like-minded nations. Akram was one of a small group of G-77 PRs who persuaded UNGA President Eliasson that a resolution on development was needed as follow up to the World Summit -- part of Pakistan's drive to link (unhelpfully, in our view) development assistance into every aspect of the UN's activities. As a G-77 negotiator for trade and development resolutions in the General Assembly's Second Committee (which deals with economic issues), Pakistan often tries to renegotiate at the UN many of the issues on which it lost at the WTO. This approach has forced the U.S. to vote against these resolutions and nations such as Japan and Australia to abstain during each of the past two years. On HIV/AIDS, Pakistan has often tried to insert language conditioning the international response to the threat on the particular religious, moral, and cultural values of the countries concerned.
9. (C) Pakistan has also effectively used its connections to Pakistanis and other friendly nationals in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) to expand ECOSOC's powers and help emphasize Pakistani views on development, which tend to fault the international economic system,s architecture rather than under-performing national governments. This effort, which directly involves UN staff who are Pakistani nationals, has sometimes undercut the role of other UN organs, including the GA, by tipping the content of DESA reports that underpin economic resolutions.
Human Rights Council
10. (C) By joining with notorious human rights abusers such as Cuba and Iran and playing a leadership role within the G-77 and the OIC, Pakistan helped ensure that U.S.-backed proposals to strengthen the Human Rights Council (HRC) were defeated. Akram expressed consistent opposition to establishing criteria for election to the HRC as well as to a two-thirds majority voting threshold (2006 USUN 243). He insisted on provisions for "equitable geographic representation" on the HRC, which reduced the number of slots open to the U.S. and Western European countries. Akram also capitalized on the controversy over the Danish cartoons to push for language barring "provocations against religion and culture," which several OIC delegations used as cover to oppose long-standing consensus on human rights norms (2006 USUN 243).
11. (C) Pakistan also unsuccessfully argued against peer review of UN member states and country-specific resolutions on human rights abuses. The Pakistani DPR observed that the HRC should serve as a body designed to share "best practices" among states, not to target individual countries or possible human rights violations (2006 USUN 29). Pakistan joined Egypt, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Belarus in calling for references to foreign occupation to be included in the resolutions establishing the HRC (2006 USUN 138). At several points during the negotiations, Akram also threatened to hold up progress on the HRC until the GA approved a follow-up resolution to the High-Level Event on development.
12. (C) Throughout the negotiations to establish a Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Pakistan generally focused on buttressing the influence of the GA and the Asian Group at the expense of the SC and Western interests. To this end, rather than engage in constructive efforts to create an effective institution, the Pakistani delegation often resorted to power plays and posturing. At the outset of the negotiations, for example, Pakistan helped forge a NAM position that the September 2005 Outcome Document had already created the PBC -- in effect making the Commission subservient to the UNGA (2005 USUN 2767). This argument ran directly counter to the U.S. position that the PBC should be an advisory body of the UNSC.
13. (C) While the U.S. accepted the eventual compromise in which the UNSC and GA passed concurrent resolutions creating the PBC, Akram rejected that formula and maintained that at most, the UNSC could pass a subsequent resolution -- which would need to be consistent with any UNGA PBC resolution -- to clarify and "operationalize its contribution" to the Commission. On the day the PBC was created, Pakistan called P5 membership on the Commission -- which was enshrined in the UNSC resolution creating the body -- "contradictory to the spirit of the (UNGA) resolution" (2005 USUN 2919). Akram had earlier argued that permanent P5 membership on the PBC was neither "equitable nor functionally justified," and asked, "Why should the P5 be there all the time?"
14. (C) Pakistan, which undoubtedly sees counterterrorism at the UN through the prism of Kashmir, in addition to its credentials as a Muslim state, has long been a leader among the OIC in opposing U.S. CT positions through indirect criticism of U.S. policies. It has joined Egypt, Venezuela, and other NAM states in arguing that attacks perpetrated by peoples living under foreign occupation are not terrorism and in emphasizing the need to confront the "root causes" of terrorism (2006 USUN 977). Pakistan has also insisted on references to "state terrorism" in UN counterterrorism strategies. In one session, the Pakistani delegate argued that militaries engaging in foreign occupation often carry out "wanton violence against innocent civilians and other non-combatants" and cited carpet-bombing, collective punishment, and targeted assassinations as examples of state terrorism (2006 USUN 977).
15. (C) But Pakistan has gone beyond long-standing positions to derail pragmatic compromises on UN counterterrorism strategies. While the EU, U.S., Eastern Europeans and most Latin Americans urged the UNGA in May 2006 to adopt an action-oriented CT strategy based on areas where there is wide agreement, Pakistan led Syria and Iran, among others, to oppose any CT strategy unless there was agreement on all elements (2006 USUN 1040). Arguing that exclusion of controversial issues would not produce a comprehensive strategy, Pakistan insisted on an exception for national liberation movements and a reference to state terrorism. Akram added that the latest UN Secretariat report on counterterrorism strategy was another example of the SYG going "too far" in the wrong direction -- in other words, towards the U.S. position.