K N Pandita
The UN General Assembly has elected Volkan Bozkir, the veteran Turkish bureaucrat and career diplomat as the President of the 75th General Assembly Session. He will assume office in September and will be the first-ever Turkish diplomat to be elected to the high office of the UN. He won a landslide majority of 171 votes while 11 abstained. This speaks for his popularity.
On Sunday, the 26th of July, he was supposed to pay a two-day visit to Pakistan on the invitation of the foreign minister of Pakistan. However, at the eleventh hour, the president-elect sent an urgent message to the Pakistani foreign minister regretting his inability to keep promise owing to what he said some technical irregularity in his outbound flight. However, he hoped that he would soon find time to pay the deferred visit.
No sooner was this news flashed to the Pak foreign minister, than he shot a series of tweets saying that some technical snag had forced the president-elect to postpone his Islamabad visit. The foreign minister did not stop there but went on with so many successive tweets in which he excitedly texted what he was going to tell the president-elect. These tweets contained a litany of Pakistan’s grouse against India, and in particular, he spoke of so-called atrocities by India on the Muslims of the valley. He ended his tweets by emphasizing that he would be impressing upon the president-elect to mobilize pressure on India to accept the SC resolutions regarding the solution of Kashmir issue.
Amusingly, the Dawn of Pakistan published the entire text of tweets exchanged. Reading the tweets of Pakistan foreign minister shows how much hatred and anger he is nursing against India which he is impatient to convey to the president-elect. Like a day-dreamer he thinks that the president-elect has a magic wand which he will swing in the General Assembly and with that Kashmir is taken away from India and handed over to Pakistan on a platter. Keeping in mind the unwritten norms of international diplomacy, no senior official or leader of a state discloses to the general public the contents of his message to a visiting dignitary. But Pakistani foreign minister broke the convention and, evidently, quite purposefully.
Before we proceed to examine why Pakistani foreign minister hastened to invite the president-elect to a two-day visit to Pakistan months ahead of the latter formally assuming the charge of the office, a couple of things need to be stated here. It is not at all convincing that a very high dignitary of the United Nations, whose visit to a foreign country has been announced in advance, suddenly finds a technical hitch in his travel schedule which he is forced to cancel. The travel itinerary of so important a functionary as the President of General Assembly is always drawn much ahead of its time, meticulously prearranged and streamlined and only then a green signal is given. Therefore, the plea offered by the president-elect that his visit had to be cancelled owing to some technical flaw is not convincing at all. The rapidity with which the Pakistani foreign minister reacted to the cancellation of the visit showed that he was very much upset.
We can safely infer that when the subject of the president-elect desiring to visit Pakistan was discussed by the UN senior officials, they found that there was something amiss on account of which the visit should not be cleared. The first flaw they noticed was that the invitation had come from the foreign minister of Pakistan and not either the Prime Minister or the President of that county. It dawned upon them that the President-elect visiting a member country on the invitation of the foreign minister was far below his dignity. A non-descript foreign minister cannot be equated with the President of the General Assembly. The second and much more serious flaw which they noted was that the president-elect had agreed to visit a country (Pakistan) which almost all member states of the UN know is the fountain-head of global terrorism. Several terrorist organizations in that country and also some individual terrorists have already been designated by the UN as well as the State Department of the US. They pointed out that a president-elect of the General Assembly session choosing a country which is the home to global terrorism would mean legitimizing terrorism. This they thought would bring shame and disrepute to the world body and the president-elect would be degrading a trivializing his position.
The president-elect understood the observations of his senior staff and decided to cancel the visit the eleventh hour. One can say that he did the right thing and saved the dignity of the GA as well as his official position.
The news of the cancellation of the visit came like a bolt from the blue for the Pakistani foreign minister. He had built a background narrative impressing upon the army and the prime minister that he was smart and outplayed the Indians. But with the cancellation news coming in he felt not only embarrassed but even ashamed. To overcome the insult, he resorted to the bravado of stating in public tweets all that he wanted to convey to the president-elect if the meeting had matured. For whose consumption did he indulge in a flurry of tweets and vituperation against India? It was not for the consumption of the Turkish lobby, not for the people and observers in Pakistan but for the army generals in Pakistan to who he wanted to prove that he was more loyal than the king.
The tailpiece is that he had perhaps been banking on the wave of antagonism against India which Turkey’s President Erdogan has spread against India after he decided he should become Islamic. Pakistani foreign minister thought he would capitalize on the existing acrimony between New Delhi and Ankara. New Delhi stays undisturbed because it knows that there is a deep schism within the Muslim and the non-Saracen Muslims are trying to wrest the authority and leadership from the Arabs and Saracens. Erdogan, who has recently discovered that he is a Musulman, aspires for the leadership of the break-away group with Pakistan hopping in and out of it.
K N Pandita