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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi completes her long diplomatic inning with distinction!

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s First Female Permanent Representative to the UN says its time to move on and hands over her seat to Munir Akram. She promises to continue serving Pakistan as she in the past.

Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, concluded her term at the UN on a “high note” after facilitating a successful visit for Prime Minister Imran Khan at the UNGA session in New York.

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi has served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations for the last four and a half years, and she was Pakistan’s first female Permanent Representative at the UN. Informed sources reveal that Dr. Lodhi has been summoned back to the country to take up a crucial assignment.

Dr. Lodhi will be replaced by Munir Akram, one of Pakistan’s most seasoned diplomats, and a former Permanent Representative to the UN.

“Honored to Serve”

Speaking to the media in an interview, Maleeha Lodhi said, “It has been an honor to serve the country and I am grateful for being given this opportunity to do so for over four years.”

She said, “Representing Pakistan at the world’s most important multilateral forum was both a privilege and an enormous responsibility. I had planned to move on following the United Nations General Assembly and am fortunate to leave on a high note after a successful visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan and am humbled by the appreciation I have received and the support I have also received over the years.”

The festival allowed the Pakistani celebrities and talent to mingle with UN officials and diplomats from over 150 countries.

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi revealed that her term at the UNGA was her greatest professional challenge at a time when the international community was constantly evolving and the arena was ripe with foreign policy challenges. During her ambassadorship at the UN, she ensured that Pakistan returned to the multilateral map.

Ambassador Lodhi is a veteran diplomat and highly skilled to represent Pakistan at the UNGA, having served two terms as the Ambassador to the US, and five terms as a high-profile High Commissioner in the UK. During her term at the UN, she effectively highlighted Pakistan’s stance with regards to Kashmir, and she worked tirelessly for the diplomatic success of facilitating the first UN Security Council meeting on Kashmir after five decades.

Dr. Lodhi will be remembered for well-articulated and dignified rebuttals of all critics of Pakistan, particularly the representative of Kabul, who was often silenced by Pakistan’s UN ambassador. However, her presentations in the General Assembly and the Security Council mainly focused on the need to bring an end to the war through political negotiations, highlighting there can never be a military solution.

Advocacy at the UN

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi’s advocacy for the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination irked Indians but she won over public appreciation across the occupied valley, and even leaders, such as Syed Geelani of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference was appreciative of her advocacy. She highlighted the case of occupied Kashmir at every forum available to her, and in 2016, Dr. Lodhi made headlines with her robust yet dignified responses to the Indian Foreign Minister’s angry rant against Pakistan, a video that continues to be watched by millions on YouTube.

Dr. Lodhi will also be remembered for her political acumen and leadership skills, and how she lobbied support to highlight issues that were crucial to Pakistan, such as Security Council reforms, where she was seen countering the efforts by the G4 countries, including India, Japan, and Brazil, who wanted to negotiate permanent seats for themselves.

Read more: Opportunities & Challenges in Pakistan’s Foreign Policy 

Sources reveal that Ambassador Lodhi also succeeded in countering Indian efforts, and those made by other unfriendly states to malign Pakistan on the issues of terrorism at the UN Sanctions Committee. She worked tirelessly and dedicatedly towards carving out a leadership role for Pakistan in the UN Peacekeeping, and for the first time, organized a grouping of Troop and Police contributing countries, spearheaded by Pakistan.

Dr. Lodhi will also be remembered for her passionate and well-articulated speeches in solidarity with Palestine. She was engaged in a wide range of issues that haunt the globe, including green energy, child rights, migration, the SDGs and more, and aside from her official statements, she also worked on the side to further her advocacy for these challenges.

Sources reveal that Dr. Lodhi’s active involvement in UN reform procedures also earned her the appreciation of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who repeatedly conveyed to visiting Pakistani officials that Dr. Lodhi was a dedicated envoy, and the UN has reaped great benefits from her powerful presence.

Dr. Lodhi also organized events to address the pressing concerns of xenophobia, Islamophobia, counter-terrorism, forced migration and more. She deployed creative avenues to present Pakistan’s soft power in a distinctive and unique cultural light. In 2017, Pakistan’s national day witnessed the first-ever concert organized in the General Assembly, thanks to Dr. Lodhi’s efforts, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan delighted scores of listeners from across the world.

The following year, she organized another concert in the General Assembly, a performance by Lahore’s Sachal Jazz group. Dr. Lodhi truly excelled in terms of her cultural diplomacy efforts, and she even organized the first-ever Pakistan Film Festival in 2017, receiving a glittering reception at the United Nations. The festival allowed the Pakistani celebrities and talent to mingle with UN officials and diplomats from over 150 countries.

Read more: Dr. Maleeha Lodhi meets UNSC President: India must Cease & Reverse its Actions

In 2019, Dr. Lodhi arranged another Pakistan Film Festival, which received a spectacular reception at the UN. She also organized at the celebratory event for Eid at the UN, a first of its kind, which was even attended by the UN Secretary-General as the chief guest.

The UN Secretary-General also attended other events organized by Dr. Lodhi, including exhibitions of contemporary Pakistani art, Pakistan’s role in Peacekeeping, and one on the female trailblazers of Pakistan. Showcasing documentaries and feature films was a significant part of Dr. Lodhi’s public diplomacy.