ISLAMABAD: In a breakthrough at Belgrade, Senator Raza Rabbani emerged victorious on Sunday after India withdrew the candidature of Shashi Tharoor for a slot in the prestigious executive committee of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU).
The IPU is holding its 141st general assembly in the Serbian capital. It opened with a meeting of the IPU’s Asia Pacific Group to decide about its joint nominee for a slot in the executive committee.
Of the 34 members of the executive committee, Asia has three seats and two of them are already held by China and Thailand. Election to the third seat was to be held on Sunday. The term of the executive committee’s member is three years.
According to the National Assembly Secretariat (NAS), Pakistan fielded former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani for the coveted slot and his candidature was being vigorously pursued by Pakistan’s parliamentary delegation led by NA Speaker Asad Qaiser. It may be noted that Mr Qaiser is chairman of the Asia Pacific Group for the current year.
As the meeting opened, the Indian delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, in a surprise move, forwarded the candidature of noted writer and Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Shashi Tharoor.
India withdraws Shashi Tharoor’s candidature for the post
However, sensing better position of Mr Rabbani, the Indian delegation made an attempt to gain more time for canvassing and demanded a deferment of the vote. They also attempted to refer the matter to the main general assembly.
However, this was thwarted by the Pakistani delegation, which sought the group chairman’s ruling on the issue and urged him to follow the tradition of Asia Pacific fraternity of deciding the matters internally and not by the IPU’s general assembly.
Pakistan’s appeal was seconded by China, Canada and the Philippines, a senior official of the NA Secretariat, who was attending the event, told Dawn by telephone.
The Canadian delegate drew the house’s attention to the previous case when a similar situation was tackled by voting within the group.
The Indian delegation tried to delay the election till the last day of the IPU’s general assembly, which will conclude on Oct 17, but failed to get support from countries attending the session.
Consequently, finding no buyers of India’s point of view and sensing an imminent defeat in the ballot, Mr Tharoor withdrew his candidature. Thus, Pakistan’s Raza Rabbani won the seat.
To add to Pakistan’s jubilation, Asia Pacific Group unanimously elected Senator Sherry Rehman to the prestigious bureau of the IPU’s Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Trade and Finance. Senator Javaid Abbasi was also elected to the IPU’s Drafting Committee.
With these elections, Pakistan’s parliament has got the prestigious presence of its seven members in different committees of the IPU.
The victory is said to be the result of Mr Qaiser’s diplomacy under whose speakership, a record number of Pakistani parliamentarians have ventured into key international positions. Mr Qaiser was also instrumental in the election of Shandanda Gulzar as chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians. That election was held in Uganda last month.
Talking to Dawn, Senator Rabbani termed his success a victory of the whole country. “I believe it is a big achievement of Pakistan at any international forum,” he added.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019