UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan abstained from voting on two key UN resolutions on Afghanistan and Ukraine this week, joining Russia and China on both issues against the United States and its allies who voted for the two moves.

Pakistan was among the 72 other countries that abstained when the UN General Assembly voted on Monday to adopt a resolution that held Russia accountable for violating international laws when it invaded Ukraine and obliged it to pay war reparations.

Pakistan also abstained in the vote on a resolution on Afghanistan, which noted with concern persistent violence and presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The resolution also underlined UN concerns about abuse of human rights, including those of women, girls, and minorities, in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, however, participated actively in informal consultations on the Afghan resolution and appreciated that some of its suggestions were accommodated by Germany and the co-sponsors.

While explaining its decision to abstain, Pakistan pointed out that the resolution did not acknowledge the de facto new government in Afghanistan and made no commitment to unfreeze Kabul’s national reserves.

Pakistan also said that it was “disappointed that one delegation (India) was allowed to block references to the specific mention of terrorist organisations, including the TTP, as well as references to the role and contributions of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to peace and stability in Afghanistan”.

Ukraine: Sponsored by 57 countries, the resolution on Ukraine garnered 94 votes in the 193-member Assembly, while 14, including Russia, China, Cuba, Mali, and Ethiopia, voted against it. Saudi Arabia was also among those who abstained.

It was the lowest level of support for any of the five resolutions on Ukraine that the General Assembly had passed since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24.

The resolution recommended the establishment of an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury arising from the Russian’s wrongful acts.

Speaking in explanation of his vote, Pakistani delegate Gul Qaiser said the resolution failed to address key legal requirements in a comprehensive manner.

For Pakistan, he said, the highest priority was the immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of a dialogue to resolve the conflict and restore peace and security in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, who presented the resolution to the Assembly, insisted that Russia must be held accountable for its violations of international law.

“Seventy-seven years ago, the Soviet Union demanded and received reparations, calling it a moral right of a country that has suffered war and occupation,” he said.

Speaking before the vote, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya characterised the draft resolution as “a classic example” of a narrow group of States acting not on the basis of international law, but rather trying to consecrate something that is illegal.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2022

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