Pakistan’s election to a key slot of the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is the biggest diplomatic success over the past few years, reflecting Islamabad is not only emerging as a new economic hub in the region but also in geographic and geostrategic perspective.
Only two years back, Pakistan had lost the election for the same slot. The win has not only blown away assertions about Pakistan’s ‘diplomatic isolation’ but this is also a setback to the US efforts to project India as the net security provider in the region.
The election win would enable Pakistan to raise human rights violations in India-occupied Kashmir, Palestine and other issues at the coveted club of the UN. Not only Pakistan can initiate any resolution, it can also co-sponsor, vote and support any initiative on human rights.
Pakistan was among 15 countries elected on Monday as 193-member Assembly chose them through secret ballot. Pakistan polled 151 votes—80 per cent votes polled—while neighbouring Afghanistan stood as the last country to be elected, polling 130, despite full support from US and India.
While China lobbied for Pakistan, India and the US opposed Pakistan’s election. Russia also lobbied for Pakistan. Members of the council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.
The council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations as well as making recommendations on them.
The Geneva-based council is mandated to promote and protect human rights, and prevent human rights violations. This is the fourth time Pakistan has been elected to the 47-member council—the first success came in 2006 when the council was created by the UN General Assembly.
All of the human rights council’s members are elected by the world body’s General Assembly, and it has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva. The council’s membership is based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats are distributed as follows: 13 seats for African states, 13 seats for Asia-Pacific states, eight seats for Latin American and Caribbean states, seven seats for Western European and other states, and six seats for Eastern European states.
THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS:
An official involved with the entire lobbying effort for Pakistan told this scribe that the diplomatic victory was a result of a coordinated effort, and all organs of the state—from the prime minister to the ministry of foreign affairs—worked hard to achieve this goal.
The official said that India was lobbying to block Pakistan’s bid to win the slot, while the US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley was covertly moving in tandem.
In an open reference to Pakistan and other countries supporting Palestine, Nikki Haley threatened to boycott the UN Human Rights Council, saying the US is “reviewing its participation” in the human rights council over what she called “the group’s chronic anti-Israel bias”.
The official said that Pakistan adopted a seven-pronged strategy to deal with the challenge and followed up every initiative several times.
“We got all the dignitaries involved—from the prime minister to our permanent representative at the UN Dr Maliha Lodhi. All worked in tandem and all tools were employed to win the votes. OIC contact group also played a key role, while brotherly states like Maldives contributed a lot,” the official added.
The official said that other than the OIC, African block also contributed to Pakistan’s advantage.
“This win has proved that those talking about Pakistan’s isolation remain in a fool’s paradise. Many countries voted for Pakistan after our exit two years back. Over the years, they have realised that Pakistan is a balancing factor in the region and beyond,” the official maintained.
— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) October 18, 2017
Team Pakistan did a great job; am hugely grateful to them as indeed to all the countries which supported us pic.twitter.com/c0dKTH3gYM
— Maleeha Lodhi (@LodhiMaleeha) October 17, 2017