Pakistan stays on sidelines as UN debates Ukraine crisis: report

Published - March 02, 2022 01:31 pm IST - Islamabad

Representational image only.

Representational image only. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Pakistan allowed its turn to pass as the UN General Assembly continued to debate a resolution demanding immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, according to a media report on March 2.

The 193-member UN General Assembly convened the rare and unprecedented emergency special session on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Monday after the 15-nation Security Council voted on Sunday on a resolution to refer the crisis to the most representative body of the world organisation.

The statement noted that Russia launched an unprovoked action against Ukraine that posed no threat to it. "This constitutes a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and presents a serious risk to global peace and security," it said.

According to a UN statement, some 100 countries are expected to address the General Assembly, which is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution on Ukraine, tentatively expected on Wednesday.

“As a UN member, Pakistan can participate in the UNGA debate, which entered its second day on Tuesday, but it has avoided doing so,” the Dawn newspaper reported.

Indications are that Pakistan wants to avoid getting involved in the dispute which places it in an uncomfortable position. Pakistan is a traditional U.S. ally, which once provided Washington a corridor to reach out to China.

“Pakistan, which is trying not to take sides on this, stayed away from debate on the issue of Ukraine,” the report said.

It said the U.S. State Department urged journalists not to “focus on individual specific countries” when they asked questions about India’s abstentions. India had abstained on the resolution, along with China and the UAE, while Russia voted against and 11 Council members in favour.

China is Pakistan’s closest ally which supports Islamabad on key issues on various international fora, such as the United Nations and the FATF.

Diplomatic observers in Washington claim that China also played a key role in arranging Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia last week. The observers argue that Pakistan is gradually orbiting out of the American influence and getting closer to both China and Russia, a claim Islamabad rejects as incorrect.

“Pakistan says it wants to maintain close ties with both China and the United States and apparently that is why it does not want to get involved in the Ukrainian dispute,” the report said. Pakistan became conspicuous in the Ukraine crisis as Prime Minister Khan was visiting Moscow when the attack was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a press briefing that it was a bilateral visit planned well ahead of the eruption of the conflict. He also said that Islamabad would not take sides and later on he held a telephonic conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.

While a UNSC resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine would have been legally binding and General Assembly resolutions are not, voting in the 193-member UN body is symbolic of world opinion on the crisis and carries political weight as they represent the will of the entire UN membership.

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