It is undeniable that Pakistan’s inability to get re-elected to the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHCR) is a disappointing turn of events, and surely a failure of our Foreign Office and diplomatic handlers.
Yet the hue and cry being raised in the Senate – to the extent that an official investigation has been constituted to dispense “stern punishment” to those responsible – is going a bit too far.
Unlike the impression being given by most Senators, Pakistan not being a member of the UNHRC does not limit its ability to raise human rights issue in front of the body or any other organization for that matter.
It can still do all of that, it is just not part of the council’s deliberations on the issues put before it.
It may be contended that Pakistan loses the ability to influence proceedings, but considering that the council is a 47 member committee and each member state is supposed to act impartially, that concern is overblown.
The United Nation and its myriad committees constantly keep reshuffling their memberships after a few years to remain impartial and inclusive; failing to be on the UNHCR is not catastrophic, only matter of routine.
That being said, not being re-elected is a shortcoming of our lobbying department.
Pakistan received 105 votes in the General Assembly, 15 short of the required number.
It does not impact our short term objectives but it does indicate that for other more important polls Pakistan may have difficulty getting the requisite support.
The Senators concerns that Pakistan’s mediocre human rights record may have contributed to this shortcoming must be considered in full, especially since the establishment claims that the world has recognized the strides it has made in that department.
But the real reason may be a little more mundane.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar hit the nail on the head; the country had no permanent foreign minister for the past three years, and administrative mismanagement saw the permanent UN representative replaced 12 days before the vote, which resulted in the newcomer being unable to lobby effectively.
Not being a member of the UNHRC is a disappointment, but Pakistan is member of 14 other committees, so calling for the heads of the lobbying department is extreme.
However getting the foreign office in order is a reasonable objective, one that the situation demands.
The senators should seek accountability over the lack of permanency in the department.