ISLAMABAD, June 18: It appears for now Pakistan has decided to keep everyone guessing on whether or not it would field a candidate for the top UN slot and put the Asian contenders on tenterhooks.
All official statements on the hot subject emanating from the Foreign Office and Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the UN in New York point to this direction.
The Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam who is also director-general of the UN Division, has remained evasive and guarded on the subject. She has restrained herself to general statements such as: no decision in this regard has been taken so far and Pakistan will look at all options. Also, she has termed as mere speculations the names being mentioned from Pakistan which include Munir Akram, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, Dr. Nafis Sadiq, former head of the UN Population Fund who is currently UN secretary-general’s special envoy on HIV/Aids and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.
Other officials at the Foreign Ministry contacted by Dawn were equally non-committal when asked if Pakistan would make a formal announcement in this regard. “Well that would be assuming Pakistan is considering fielding a candidate,” is how one senior official put it.
Soon after India officially endorsed its candidate for the post of UN secretary-general, Mr Akram was quoted as saying that Pakistan had also been giving serious consideration to field a candidate for the job.
Indications are that for the moment Pakistan has decided to adopt a policy of ambiguity on this key question as no timeline has yet been set by the UN Security Council for countries to announce their nominees.
Observers say ambiguity suits Pakistan at this point.
However, the declaration by the Foreign Office spokesperson on Friday that Islamabad does not want Asia divided and wanted consensus in the region suggests that Pakistan may opt not to add to the division.
There are already four candidates from Asia. While Asean has endorsed Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Suriakiart Sathirathaith as its consensus candidate, from Saarc there are two nominees. Prior to India’s announcement of its candidate Shashi Tharoor, a career UN diplomat, Sri Lanka had already declared its top diplomat Jayanatha Dhanapala as its official nominee.
The fourth official contender from Asia is South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon.
The Asean secretary-general during his recent visit to Islamabad had sought Pakistan’s support for its consensus candidate and Sri Lanka had also sounded Pakistan about its nominee unlike India.
This question has been under discussion in Pakistan foreign policy circles for some time now and on Friday following the Indian announcement of its candidature Foreign Ministry officials again took it up at length.
Additional foreign secretary Tariq Osman Hyder who heads the UN Division had long-drawn in-house consultations on the subject, it is learnt.
The Foreign Office will soon be sending its recommendations to the Prime Minister’s secretariat and the Presidency, sources said, adding that the final decision in this regard would be taken at the highest political level.