This article was written before the heinous terror attack in Islamabad.
In an unprecedented step, the Security Council of the United Nations voted in a heated session that extended late into Tuesday evening to withdraw the recognition of two member states. According to Resolution 2133, Pakistan and Bangladesh will both cease to be recognised in their current form beginning 2pm on the May 11, 2015. This is the first time that the world body has taken such a step, prompting the French representative to call it “an extremely special case”.
The UN Secretary General, Natasha Rabinovich, addressed a stormy press conference that was attended by representatives of the UN Security Council, which saw several journalists interrupt and challenge the decision. The Secretary General stated in reply to a question regarding the right of the UN to determine the future of peoples: “Taking into account that the security of these nations is integral to the security of the entire world, we deeply regret having to take such action but they cannot be allowed to continue to fail their people and the world community.”
The British ambassador to the UN, Sir John Steward, also addressed the press conference saying: “The global fight against terror requires stable governments to be able to provide security for their own population and eradicate terrorist breeding grounds.” Europe has been hit by a string of terror attacks that have been linked to fundamentalist training grounds based in the North-Western Pakistani borders with Afghanistan.
Reactions from the Pakistani government came swiftly via Masood Afzal, the country’s ambassador to the world body. “This is a completely illegal and unacceptable act,” he said, adding that: “The people of Pakistan will not stand for this and will fight the resolution by all means. It is not part of the mandate of the United Nations to dictate the fate of an entire nation which has elected a democratic government in a transparent and fair process”.
Riots broke out in the streets of Pakistan when the news was announced, with protesters demanding the use of the country’s nuclear weapons in the event of foreign troops entering Pakistani territory.
The United States, Britain and France voted in favour of the resolution. Russia and China both abstained, allowing the resolution to pass with a simple majority of nine of the 15 states serving on the UN Security Council.
In the six months since the resolution was tabled by the US and the European powers of the UK, France, Poland and Germany, known as the EU4, tensions have mounted in the Asian subcontinent with Pakistan’s President, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, repeatedly shuttling between Moscow and Beijing. Both capitals were expected to use their veto power against the resolution but according to observers, the emergence of India as a superpower and major trading partner, as well as a rising tide of militant Islamism especially within Pakistan in recent years, contributed to their abstention.
Sources inside the UN also reported that Russia received assurances from the US and the EU4 that included guarantees that no former Soviet state would be allowed into Nato before 2025. The same sources also expect a UN resolution to be passed in the coming months designating Tibet as an integral part of China, and Nima Lhamo, the Dalai Lama, as persona non grata within UN bodies.
The reintegration of Pakistan and Bangladesh into India reverses a seven decade-old independence process widely seen as having failed due to the deteriorating situation in each country with regards to education, health care, unemployment, rampant corruption and graft, as well as the mounting threat of global terrorism.
The foreign ministers of the US and the EU4 are expected to travel to the wealthy Arab Gulf states as well as Japan in order to raise the $30 billion that experts predict will be the cost of reintegrating the two states into India over the coming two years.
Although the resolution does not call for the use of force and is being billed as a “soft power” approach to world diplomacy, various countries and world organisations such as Human Rights Watch issued strongly worded condemnations.
The controversial resolution calls for the isolation of both states starting with a halt of all international flights from May 18, should their governments fail to start taking steps towards reintegration. Both nations will also be suspended from world bodies, and trade will only be allowed in essential items such as food and medicine from June 1. Also by then, the embassies of both Pakistan and Bangladesh in UN member nations will be required to be vacated and diplomats expelled. Only the representatives to the UN will be allowed to remain to coordinate humanitarian efforts, according to the resolution.
Mohammad Yunus, the President of the hunger and poverty stricken state of Bangladesh issued a joint statement with Aisha Mubarak, the country’s Prime Minister welcoming the UN resolution.
This article was originally published in The National on September 22, 2008.