In the face of criticism from the United States for encouraging “unhelpful resolutions, especially on issues relating to religious freedom and the Middle East” at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Pakistan said it wanted “freedom of expression” to be balanced with “respect for religion.”

According to a cable sent by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad (153464: confidential) on May 12, 2008, Hasan Javed, Director General of the United Nations and Economic Cooperation Division of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responding to U.S. concerns on this issue, said: “We are not as advanced as you are” in terms of respect for freedom of religion and could not always control the reactions of sometimes ignorant crowds.

But, the cable suggested that Pakistan was defensive about its pro-active stand on resolutions that were not to the liking of the U.S.

“Hasan stated that the only reason that Pakistan took the lead on certain resolutions is that the other members of the Organization of the Islamic Council (OIC) [Organisation of the Islamic Conference] do not draft well in English.”

The conversation took place in the context of Pakistan's plan to run for one of the four seats from Asia that fell vacant in 2008 on the HRC. Pakistan was eventually elected for the three-year term. The U.S. under the Bush administration had decided against running for the seats in the HRC protesting against the membership of allegedly repressive states, but the policy was reversed during the Obama administration. The U.S. was elected to the HRC in 2009.

(The Pakistan Cables are being shared by The Hindu with NDTV in India and Dawn in Pakistan)