Pakistan stays on sidelines as UN debates Ukraine

Published March 2, 2022
The United Nations holds its second day of emergency special session General Assembly meetings on the Russia-Ukraine conflict in New York, on Tuesday. — AFP
The United Nations holds its second day of emergency special session General Assembly meetings on the Russia-Ukraine conflict in New York, on Tuesday. — AFP

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan allowed its turn to pass as the UN General Assembly on Tuesday continued to debate a resolution demanding immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

In Washington, the US State Department urged journalists not to “focus on individual specific countries” when they asked questions about India’s abstentions.

On Friday, India did not vote on a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Russian invasion.

Two days later, India abstained again when the Security Council voted to convene an emergency special session of the 193-member General Assembly to debate the crisis.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken telephoned his Indian counterpart and urged him to back US efforts in the United Nations and other international platforms.

Pakistan, which is trying not to take sides on this issue, stayed away from both sessions. As a UN member, Pakistan can participate in the UNGA debate, which entered its second day on Tuesday, but so far it has avoided doing so.

Indications are that Pakistan wants to avoid getting involved in the dispute which places it in an uncomfortable position. Pakistan is a traditional US ally, which once provided Washington a corridor to reach out to China.

Relations between the two countries, however, have strained recently, as the United States grew closer to India, which now has a key role in the US efforts to contain China.

China is Pakistan’s closest ally which supports Islamabad on key issues on various international fora, such as the United Nations and the FATF.

Diplomatic observers in Washington claim that China also played a key role in arranging Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia last week. The observers argue that Pakistan is gradually orbiting out of the American influence and getting closer to both China and Russia, a claim Islamabad rejects as incorrect.

Pakistan says it wants to maintain close ties with both China and the United States and apparently that’s why it does not want to get involved in the Ukrainian dispute.

The United Arab Emirates had also abstained from voting on both occasions.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2022

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