UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Pakistan for a three-day visit on Sunday, 16th of February, recognizing Pakistan’s decades-long commitment and generosity in tackling millions of refugees and fighting climate change. It is his maiden visit to Pakistan as Secretary-General since 2010 when Ban Ki-Moon- the then Secretary-General of UN – visited Pakistan.
In a changing regional political and economic dynamics, the visit of the Secretary-General is a crucial breakthrough in easing tensions in the region on multiple fronts. This visit holds multi-dimensional importance for Pakistan by considering the various disturbing issues.
Pakistan is host to millions of Afghan and Kashmir refugees who fled their native countries in search of finding a peaceful and stable place where they could live in harmony. After the Afghan quagmire started in the 1970s, about 4 million Afghan people abandoned their native country and took refuge in Pakistan.
UN Secretary General @antonioguterres' visit to Pakistan will play role in settlement of Kashmir dispute: Jammu Kashmir Peoples League & Jammu Kashmir National Front https://t.co/hBLrMw8i4Y #UNSGInPakistan #RefugeeSummit
#40yearsOfAfgRefugeesInPak #BrightAndPeacefulPakistan pic.twitter.com/uOmtAcRObo— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) February 17, 2020
It is a record maintained by Pakistan to hold such a whooping number of people as refugees and provide them with necessities such as food, clean water, health facilities, and proper education. Similarly, Pakistan is also home to a considerable number of refugees from India-controlled Kashmir from where they fled due to the brutish atrocities inflicted upon them by Indian forces.
In this matter, the visit of the Secretary-General is of unprecedented importance. Today (17th of February) Mr. Antonio is scheduled to deliver his keynote speech during an international conference titled ’40 years of hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan’. Pakistan can gain financial and economic benefits from the Secretary-General visit by catching the attention of UNHCR. As this UN-backed agency is principally concerned with providing facilities to refugees from all over the world, Pakistan will hope to draw their attention and secure some international help until the crisis of refugees is over.
Countries all over the world are fighting hard to control the intractable harsh consequences of climate change. In the 21st century, the main concern of the majority of states is to control the rising temperatures and prevent the economic and social impacts of climate change.
Pakistan in this regard has done little to combat the growing threat of global warming, nevertheless, projects like ‘Billion-tree tsunami’ are praiseworthy. That was what Antonio Guterres said when he talked about Pakistan’s contribution to coping with the impacts of climate change.
According to him, one of the main purposes of his visiting Pakistan is to spotlight the real Pakistan with all its possibilities and potential. Pakistan in this domain can hope to attract foreign investments in projects aimed at controlling global warming. The UN-funded agencies are working hard to control this menace and Pakistan is likely to benefit from it.
United Nations & Kashmir
The secretary-general also took notice of the Kashmir dispute and tensions along the line of control. He said he was deeply concerned and had repeatedly stressed the importance of exercising maximum restraint. Article 99 of the UN charter calls upon the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the security council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.
The then Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan employed this principle in Zimbabwe in 2005 to defuse the looming tension while Ban Ki-moon interpret this principle in 2006 and 2013 in Fiji and Syria respectively. In a similar fashion, Mr. Antonio can follow suit and should take notice of the barbarity of Indian forces in IOK.
The Indian government has committed political vandalism on August 5, 2019, by revoking the special status given to Kashmir. This was done by scrapping article 370. From that day Indian forces have confined the people of IOK to their homes and a curfew is in place from the last 200 days.
The looming geo-political crisis in south Asia has resulted in aggressive politics from India towards Pakistan. The BJP of Mr Modi is a staunch follower of RSS ideology which is notoriously famous for their ‘fascist’ doctrine
Mr. Antonio is expected to take up a hard stance on these circumstances and press for a political settlement of this issue. Pakistan, in this case, can benefit by pronouncing its own terms for the settlement and could provide a road map for peacefully ending this 72-year-old bone of contention between India and Pakistan.
In the meantime, while President Donald Trump is scheduled to officially visit India for the first time in next week. He announced he would be visiting India from Feb 24-25 where he would speak at a public meeting along the lines of ‘Howdy Modi’ during the Gujarat leg of his visit. He and Indian PM are expected to ink a bilateral trade deal and would strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries.
Trump’s visit to India may bring multiple challenges for Pakistan in the face of the ongoing regional political dynamics. However, the UN Secretary-general visit to Pakistan may be taken as a blessing and Pakistan can lessen the impact of Trump’s visit to India by employing some pre-emptive tactics.
Afghan Peace Process & Pakistan
The Afghan peace process is in full swing these days and Pakistan is trying to establish a political settlement in Afghanistan which is Pakistan-friendly and do not disturb its security situation. The stakes for Pakistan in this process are high and the US is fully aware of this.
Due to trump’s nationalist policies and America-cantered thinking he is trying to put an end to this conflict after 19 years of fighting, that too for nothing considerable short of acting like policemen. Pakistan can take the current visit of the UN Secretary-General as a blessing in disguise and can fix the terms of the Afghan peace process with Mr. Antonio before Donald Trump strike any meaningful deal with PM Modi in this regard.
Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI along with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visits Refugee Marketplace established during Refugee Summit Islamabad.#PMImranKhan pic.twitter.com/mlt0D9gELO— Ayeza Rajput (@AyezaRajput) February 17, 2020
As the peace process would pass through the UN, hence Pakistan may pre-emptively present its own terms to the Secretary-General and could also talk about its reservation vis-à-vis India. A road map can be followed by Pakistan in this fashion in diffusing tensions in the region. Pakistan may also revive its decade long policy of strategic depth vis-à-vis Afghanistan.
The looming geopolitical crisis in South Asia has resulted in aggressive politics from India towards Pakistan. The BJP of Mr. Modi is a staunch follower of RSS ideology which is notoriously famous for their ‘fascist’ doctrine. In this background, they are launching anti-Pakistan and specifically anti-Muslim campaigns that shout to the international peace-loving countries and political leaders to take decisive action against the policies of the Indian government and prevent this plague before it spread in the region.
Due to these concerns, the Pakistan Government must fully utilize its potential to convince the secretary-general about these dire circumstances and demand a politically stable and socially harmonious solution which is the deserving fate of the people of this region. Whether the secretary-general can carry out his duty in diffusing regional tensions and provide a peaceful solution for the Kashmir issue as well as the Afghan peace process is yet to be seen.