ISLAMABAD: At a candid diplomatic gathering, Norwegian Ambassador to Pakistan Per Albert Ilsaas tackled the issue of perceived western double standards in international conflicts, focusing on Ukraine and Palestine.

“Western outrage over Ukraine is often seen as selective,” Per Albert Ilsaas noted, reflecting on frequent conversations with Pakistani colleagues and media commentary.

Critics argued that the West’s vehement response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine contrasted starkly with its more muted reactions to Israel’s longstanding occupation of Palestinian territories and recent military actions in Gaza.

The comments came at a garden party at the residence of the Norwegian ambassador to mark Norway’s Constitution Day. Diplomats and local dignitaries were welcomed with Norwegian hospitality. They came together in a way that was both meaningful and unforgettable.

The ambassador acknowledged that these accusations of double standards held some truth.

“From a Norwegian perspective, there is regrettably some inconsistency in the application of international law between Ukraine and Gaza,” he said, pointing out that while western nations had been quick to condemn Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, similar language had often been avoided when addressing Israel’s actions in Gaza.

During a recent meeting in Riyadh, Per Albert Ilsaas highlighted Norway’s stance, urging consistent application of international law.

“We condemned Hamas’ terrorist attack on October 7 last year, but also stated that Israel’s conduct in the subsequent conflict went too far,” he added.

Norway had actively worked towards a ceasefire and was the first western nation to demand one, the Norwegian envoy said. The country also co-sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution supporting Palestine’s full membership status in the UN.

Despite these efforts, the ambassador emphasised the importance of treating all violations of international law with equal seriousness.

“The international community’s future depends on universal respect for all aspects of international law,” he said, adding that “this means resisting the temptation to violate these laws based on short-term national interests”.

Shifting focus to bilateral relations, Per Albert Ilsaas praised the robust and longstanding relationship between Pakistan and Norway. Celebrating 75 years of diplomatic ties, he highlighted significant collaborations, including a project that powered 150,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.

He also expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s cooperation in extraditing a Norwegian citizen involved in a terror attack in Oslo in 2022.

Concluding his remarks, Ambassador Ilsaas expressed his delight at being posted in Islamabad, underscoring the mutual trust and friendship between Norway and Pakistan. The evening’s event, celebrating Norway’s Constitution Day, was a testament to the enduring ties between the two nations.

“We are grateful each year for the opportunity to celebrate with our friends in Pakistan,” ambassador Ilsaas said, reiterating Norway’s commitment to fairness and consistency in international relations.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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