Pakistan may recall Munir

January 10, 2003

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 9: Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Munir Akram, is likely to be recalled due to charges of domestic violence against him that were reported in the US media on Wednesday.

A decision in this regard is expected soon, Dawn learnt through well-placed government sources on Thursday.

“Even if it was largely a weak case, Pakistan government will not let an individual, no matter how competent, hamper Pakistan’s presence at the United Nations,” said a senior government official, adding: “This is likely to be, even if tragic, an open-and-shut case.”

Talking to officials at the ministry of foreign affairs and other relevant government agencies it transpired that Islamabad does not want to allow a simple, unfortunate case acquire a propaganda proportion in an already difficult, if not hostile, diplomatic milieu.

“Anything potentially embarrassing for the government will be nipped in the bud,” was the view of a former diplomat.

While most of the senior officials contacted by Dawn on Thursday remained tightlipped on the fate of Pakistan’s UN representative, they reckoned the gravity of the matter.

Maintaining that there was a strong possibility of Munir Akram being recalled from his present post, one official said: “It is not just a question of right or wrong, but there is also a very strong operational aspect to the whole incident.”

“He (Munir Akram) is a fighter and media intrusion will not affect him one bit,” argued one officer at the foreign office who has worked with Akram for almost a decade.

“Given Munir Akram’s tremendous contribution to the country one hopes that he will be allowed to continue in his present position as an effective representative of Pakistan at the United Nations,” he added.

When asked if Pakistan had responded to the US State Department’s request for waiver of diplomatic immunity of Pakistan’s envoy, a senior official said it was a very serious matter, indicating that Islamabad would not allow that.