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Women’s Action Forum Challenges Ambassador Munir Akram’s Appointment

Women’s Action Forum (WAF) has challenged the appointment of Ambassador Munir Akram. Will the court get into a matter related to national security? Were allegations against Munir Akram really slander?

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A women rights’ organization, Women’s Action Forum (WAF), has filed a petition against the appointment of Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Munir Akram, before the Sindh High Court. The petition termed the appointment “illegal, unlawful and void-ab-initio”. Pakistan’s foreign office has already clarified that slanderous allegations were being levelled against Ambassador Akram to question his credibility.

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In its petition on Thursday, WAF said Akram’s appointment by the government and the ministry of foreign affairs was “illegal, unlawful and void-ab-initio”. The petition called upon the court to restrain Akram “ from performing functions of the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations”.

The women’s rights body noted that, according to Pakistani law, a retired civil servant cannot be re-hired by the federal government unless the grounds for the re-employment are concerned with the public interest.

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

The organization lashed out at the government and the ministry of foreign affairs for whimsically and capriciously making appointments of civil servants. However, the law concerning the appointment of the ambassador has not been mentioned that how was it violated by the present government?

Moreover, the petition also mentioned the allegations of domestic abuse against the diplomat that had made headlines around the globe. Citing reports from international media, WAF said Akram was involved in assaulting a woman in an incident of domestic violence.

After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s successful visit to the UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi was replaced with Ambassador Akram who is known for his ‘offensive’ policy towards India. He has written several articles and opinion pieces to suggest the state of Pakistan to get tough on India to fix the latter’s ‘unnecessary aggressive tone’.

But Ambassador Akram’s appointment soon raised questions and rights’ group argued that the government of Pakistan did not take into account many existing factors.

Rejecting allegations against Pakistan’s new envoy, foreign office’s spokesperson, Dr. Muhammad Faisal, said that “unfortunately, there has been a slander campaign against the appointment of Ambassador Munir Akram, which is reprehensible”.

Read more: Opportunities & Challenges in Pakistan’s Foreign Policy – Interview with Ambassador Munir Akram

Calling Akram a distinguished diplomat, Dr Faisal said Akram was held in high esteem in international circles. “His contributions are internationally acknowledged and recognized. He will assume his duties in New York soon,” the foreign office spokesman said.

G-M Pitafi, Professor of Politics and International Relations at the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, opines that such petitions are only meant to politicize the matter of national security for ‘self-projection’.

“I am surprised to see the Women’s rights organization filing a petition against the appointment of an Ambassador at a time when India is slaughtering innocent Kashmiris and planning to suppress all the voice,” he said. He further explained that Pakistan needed ‘an upright, vocal and composed’ ambassador at the moment and that ‘there could have been a no better option than Ambassador Akram’.

Analysts believe that the court shall not intervene in a matter which primarily does not belong to it. The courts are not meant to determine qualifications for the appointment of ambassadors when there is not a visible breach of law. It is worth noting here that Akram had previously served on the same post from 2002 to 2008.