ISLAMABAD: Advocating the Kashmir cause at the United Nations is expected to become more challenging as India is set to be elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year tenure later this month.
“On 17 June, the General Assembly is scheduled to elect five states to two-year terms on the Security Council,” a diplomatic source said, adding this year elections would be held through a changed procedure because of Covid-19, which had forced postponement of all meetings at the UN till the end of the month.
The election is normally held in the UNGA hall through secret balloting, but this time there could be multiple venues about which details would be issued by Monday. The member states would cast ballots during designated time slots and at a specified venue because of restrictions on large gatherings.
The 10 seats for non-permanent members at the UNSC are divided into regional groups: African Group, Asia-Pacific Group, Latin American and Caribbean Group, Western European and Others Group. India is running for the seat from the Asia-Pacific group, which will be vacated by Indonesia.
India’s victory is almost secured because the seat has not been contested by any of the other countries from the region. India, it should be recalled, was last year nominated uncontested for this seat by the 55-member regional group, of which Pakistan is also a part.
Raising Kashmir issue at the forum likely to become more challenging
India will, however, still be on the ballot. Under UN election rules for principal organs it would need to get a minimum of 129 votes to be declared successful if all 193 UN members take part in the voting. This apparently may not be a difficult task for Delhi because of the group’s endorsement.
If elected, it would be India’s eighth tenure at the Security Council as a non-permanent member.
Newly elected members for the 2021-22 term would start their tenure from Jan 1, 2021.
India’s election could pose a serious challenge for Pakistan, particularly its advocacy for Kashmir, which is under India’s illegal occupation.
The timing of the election is crucial because India will be taking up its tenure at a time when tensions between the South Asian neighbours over the disputed territory of Kashmir are running high, particularly after its annexation by India last August.
Diplomatic observers in New York, while speaking over phone about the implications of India’s election for Pakistan, said it could become harder to initiate a discussion on the situation in Kashmir, much less an exclusive meeting like the one held on Aug 16, 2019. India, they feared, could exercise greater influence on the sanctions regime.
India can, moreover, possibly seek debates, either formal or informal, on different issues for embarrassing Pakistan. And in bad times, it can also team up with the US to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad, the observers believe.
In other races, Djibouti and Kenya are contesting the single African Group seat. Canada, Ireland and Norway are contesting the two seats from Western European and Others Group. Mexico, much like India, would run unopposed for the Latin American and Caribbean Group set.
Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2020