‘Pakistan's actions at the UN may embolden other member states to oppose U.S. positions'

As Pakistan continued to vote against U.S. positions and interests at the United Nations despite its ties with Washington, the U.S. Mission to the UN expressed apprehension that other member states would be emboldened to do the same.

A cable sent on June 6, 2006 by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, under the name of Ambassador John Bolton ( > 66945: confidential/noforn) noted: “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 (United Nations Security Council), the positions Pakistan adopts to curry favor with other member states often put it in direct opposition to U.S. policies.”

While pointing out that Pakistan, along with Egypt, was “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.,” the cable said unlike Egypt, Pakistan had 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, it said, effectively used its membership in the G-77, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Asia Group, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to “project its views and achieve greater influence at the UN than its standing in the international community would otherwise suggest.”

Providing a statistical analysis of Pakistan's voting record at the United Nations General Assembly, the cable said “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.”

The net result, it concluded, was a “paradoxical asymmetry” on a par with the U.S. relationship with Egypt.

In this context, the cable added wryly: “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.” Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown, it noted, had observed that Pakistan and Egypt form the core of opposition to meaningful reform at the UN “perhaps as a means of ‘balancing' their friendship with the U.S. in the eyes of those parts of their publics that do not support U.S. policy.”


Giving several instances of Pakistan's opposition to U.S. interests at the UN, the cable also pointed to the disagreements on the issue of counterterrorism (CT) strategies. “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.”

Pakistan had 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.”

Pakistan, according to the cable, had 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.”

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, the cable pointed out.

The U.S. Mission was equally critical of Pakistani positions on economic and social questions. Pakistan, it said, persuaded the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN and the General Assembly to “adopt positions on development, trade, and social issues at odds with the interests of the U.S. and other like-minded nations.”

Another charge against Pakistan was that “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.”

On the issue of establishing a Peacebuilding Commission, the cable said, Pakistan, throughout the negotiations, focussed on buttressing the influence of the GA and the Asian Group at the expense of 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.”

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, the cable said, “Pakistan called P5 [Permanent Members of the Security Council] membership on the Commission — which was enshrined in the UNSC resolution creating the body — ‘contradictory to the spirit of the (UNGA) resolution.'

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

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