Authors: G Nitin &Juhi*
China’s inroads in the Indian Ocean Region has alarmed India. Particularly since the controversial Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka was given on a 99 year old. Should India watch the fate unfold or take decisive action to protect its vital trade and security interests?
The new global order has seen the rise of a new form of diplomacy – Debt Trap Diplomacy – a practice of funding expensive projects in the host country to a point of pushing the host country into debt, to gain political or economic concessions. China has been practicing this under the Belt and Road Initiative or One Belt One Road strategy, and many countries have effectively plunged themselves into massive amounts of debt. Of the many countries that have faced the brunt of asking Chinese for loans has been Sri Lanka. From the perspective of its larger neighbour, India, this is a worrisome proposition. India has vital stakes in the region, spanning trade, energy and security interests and Chinese presence has heightened tensions. Sri Lanka’s gravitation towards China in recent years has further fueled New Delhi’s anxieties.
India has had deep seated ties with Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon. After the ethnic war broke out between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils on the island state, India offered help owing to two factors – firstly it was impelled by its domestic concerns of Tamil Separatists reigniting their campaign; secondly it wanted to prevent other large powers from exploiting the power vacuum. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by the LTTE suicide bomber in 1991, although India was forced to keep a hands off policy, it wasn’t entirely in India’s interests to stay away from the civil war. Meanwhile China was strengthening its relations with Sri Lanka while it opened up defence company NORINCO in Sri Lanka to provide arms to the Sri Lankan Army. By the final stages of the war, while India was forced on moral and political grounds to cut off the supply of offensive weapons, the Chinese happily provided Sri Lankans with the desired weaponry and later on support in the international fora over human rights violations and war crimes. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the then President had an obvious reason to tilt towards China, that further helped him strengthen his base in the country. The massive economic costs that Sri Lanka incurred during the civil war pushed Rajpaksa to find International partners to develop Sri Lanka’s most important economic assets, it’s ports. While Rajapaksa clearly had an option of developing its existing ports – Colombo and Trincomalee, he chose to develop an economically wasteful port to bolster his support in his home constituency by developing Hambantota Port.
While India refused to invest in an economic dud, the Chinese stepped in to finance a port that was predicted to handle a minuscule amount of the marine traffic compared to Colombo Port. Upon realising their inability to pay the debt, the Sri Lankan government, as a consequence of scant marine traffic, had to give the port on a 99 year old lease to Chinese State owned company in 2017.
Scholars have underscored this policy of developing Chinese projects as aimed at encirclement of India, spanning Xiamen in the north, connecting Gwadar port under the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan, Kerung – Kathmandu on the north-east front, China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) and rail and road bridges in Bangladesh in the east, and Hambantota in Sri Lanka in the south. While some emphasise that China is ramping its efforts to safeguard its vital economic interests that lay in the vital sea lanes of communications (SLOCs), China has evidently ratcheted up its military foothold in the region that has been the domain of its South Asian rival, India, thereby posing a threat to India’s economic and security concerns.
For China, securing its trading interests via naval dominance in strategic points across the Indian ocean is imperative. This has been dubbed by some analysts as “string of pearls.” Its Achilles’ heel, the Malacca Strait, through which over 80 per cent of its oil imports are transported, remains prone to piracy and terrorism. Having Hambantota in its ambit is a tactic of guarding its interests in the region. Hambantota’s strategic position, that lies at the crossroads of trade channels across the Indian Ocean makes it an important ‘pearl’ in Beijing’s long term interest. China’s domestic concerns for strengthening its economy aside, its hawkish ambitions signal a doom for India’s interests in the region, as China gears to encircle India with its military might in the region.
First implication is that with the development of such projects, that are solely handled and undertaken by Chinese (state owned) companies and workmen, there is a growing fear of colonialism of sorts. Scholars have identified this pattern with European Colonialism where an outside power increased its strength over a sovereign. This can be problematic in the eyes of International law. Although Colombo may try its best to classify this deal as an opportunity for increasing job prospects for the natives, there is no way jobs can be created when Chinese labour will be the sole workmen on these projects.
Second concern is regarding the growing Chinese naval presence in the region. Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been docking its ships along major sea routes in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), fomenting suspicion. For India, the IOR holds significant value, as vast pipelines and trade networks take place in the region that are a catalyst in India’s domestic growth. The Sri Lankan government has reaffirmed that the Chinese presence in the port city is purely commercial, however Chinese have dismissed this account stating the military presence was also a part of the agreement. Given Chinese presence at pivotal points across the region, China gains easy access to India’s security apparatus and intelligence collection and in case of a crisis, India remains engulfed from all sides. The recent incident at Galwan Valley has exemplified India’s concerns in the border regions, as Beijing shows reluctance in resolving the border dispute through dialogue.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government in 2019 decided to reevaluate the 99 year lease, however Rajapaksa’s affinity with the Chinese would imply glossing over the issue for other gains. India is exercising restraint in not antagonising Sri Lanka in a bid to keep it from drifting towards the Chinese. At best, India generously disburses funds and loans, and engages in developmental projects in order to remain in Colombo’s best books. Post war reconstruction in Sri Lanka was a courtesy of India’s Humanitarian and Recovery Projects amounting to US$112 millon. India took up a Housing Project worth US$270 million and provided Line of Credit for important infrastructure projects such as the Southern Railway Corridor from Colombo to Matara, Pillai-Jaffna railway track, 500MW Coal-Based Power Plant in Sampur. Hambantota’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean Region, which makes it an important node in maritime trade and surveillance, coupled with Sri Lanka’s proximity to the Indian peninsula is enough reason for India to fear Chinese presence on the Island State. It won’t be surprising to see a repeat of the 2014 incident of Chinese Submarine docking on Colombo port, this time, however, on a much bigger scale.
Indian Ocean Region metamorphosed from a relatively peaceful region to a hotly contested region with India and China vying for greater influence. For a region that contains 36 littoral and 14 adjacent states; having a vast oil trade and abundant natural resources, establishing greater control is of paramount importance to India. With a burgeoning population and greater influence in global trade, India’s vital economic and security interest lay in the Indian Ocean Region. With Hambantota being at the crossroads of this marine traffic, it occupies a significant position and thus raises India’s security concerns.
In the aftermath of the Galwan Valley clash, keeping the Chinese away from India’s backyard has become a priority. Consequently, India has been rapidly enhancing its naval assets and bolstering alliances with regional allies such as Vietnam and Japan. Additionally, the revival of the Quad is perceived as another positive sign in bolstering the anti-China collation in the region. Notwithstanding progress on these fronts, being in Colombo’s good books remains a priority. Any fallout with Colombo will result in pushing the country deeper into China’s orbit. For Sri Lanka which had been devastated by civil war, reconstruction is of prime importance and this is a suitable opportunity for India to gain a foothold in the region. The most affected regions in the country have been the erstwhile stronghold of LTTE in the north that remains one of the most underdeveloped regions. India’s significant influence among the Tamils in the North can be used to its advantage in securing infrastructure projects in the region.
At the same time, India must make its no-nonsense attitude towards Colombo clear that it has had a history of crossing lines with India. New Delhi will have to convey to Colombo that the relationship and the mutual trust between the two countries should not be violated by either side. While it is of essence that India be accommodating towards Sri Lanka, history cautions New Delhi to be vigilant of Colombo’s flirtations with Beijing.
*Juhi is a Final Year Law Student, pursuing LL.B. at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. The author can be reached out at juhijain341[at]gmail.com
No Alternatives for Taliban but Danger of Future Civil Conflict
Events and processes in Afghanistan are moving according to a negative scenario. Despite the significant information blockade, there is still some news regarding the situation in Afghanistan. The country’s economy is deplorable and has no significant moves towards stabilization. The humanitarian situation is stable but critical. Political repression against the Taliban’s opponents continues and became systemic. And it mainly occurred against national minorities, in particular Tajiks and Hazaras. The actions of global terrorist groups also cause particular concern and warning among reliable international players. Statements regarding threats from international terrorists are made by the UN, the USA, India, and the countries of the European Union.
Paradoxically, despite the difficult economic and social situation, political transformations are still problematic to foresee. Afghanistan under the Taliban run is a classic case from the theory of political science of a rigid militarized authoritarian regime with average legitimacy. The masses cannot express their political views given repressions by government institutions. There is no rule in Afghanistan yet that could challenge the Taliban nationally. Currently, and possibly in the mid-term, there is no alternative to the Taliban. The opposition, consisting of national minorities, does not have the necessary military potential and support among the population. Regardless, international diplomatic circles and representatives of the world’s leading countries actively explain to the Taliban leaders that such a situation won’t last forever. The world centers of power are not interested in the total destabilization of Afghanistan and the beginning of a civil-military confrontation there. As the socio-economic situation of the Pashtuns, who form the core of the Taliban, deteriorates, contradictions can result in an armed uprising. And even the most oppressed ethnic groups will sooner or later begin to resist the authoritarian control of the Taliban.
One of the factual aspects of possible future destabilization could be Pakistan’s policy. Even though Islamabad is the key creator, sponsor, and mentor of the radical Islamist movement, which used terrorism as a method of political struggle, there are certain contradictions between them. In September, the Pakistani leaders decided to expel all Afghan refugees illegally living in the country. According to Pakistani media, this means that about 1.1 million Afghans will go to Afghanistan in the near future. The Pakistani government states that this number of Afghans have fled to Pakistan in the past two years — in addition to several million others living in the neighboring country for years. The decision to expel illegal Afghan refugees was made against the background of the fight against terrorism, currency smuggling, and illegal trade in sugar and fertilizers.
Ariana News informs that the plan to deport more than 1.1 million Afghan refugees was supported by the government and the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. It also means the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Pakistan consulted with all interested parties, including the Taliban. The Pakistani police have raided Afghan migrants over the past few months. Hundreds have been arrested, and many have already been dispatched homeland. Most Afghan migrants are Pashtuns from the poorest rural areas, but their mass flow to Afghanistan will lead to additional economic and social difficulties.
The contradictions between the Taliban and Pakistan also lie on a different plane. So, the recent attacks by the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, wreaking havoc, paints an alarming picture of rising instability across Pakistan. Especially the TTP’s recent incursion into the Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bordering Afghanistan is very concerning for the Pakistan military apparatus. According to the Pakistanis themselves, after the seizure of power in Kabul, terrorist groups intensified on the territory of Pakistan. Before the Taliban’s victory, official Islamabad spread the narrative that the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban were unrelated. However, today, it is becoming evident that this is not the case, and strengthening one unit leads to activating another.
It is difficult to predict the political events in Afghanistan, but it is evident that without attention from the responsible world centers of power, destabilization and strengthening of the international terrorist underground is unavoidable.
The Tug-of-War of Regionalism in South Asia
The South Asian area, encompassing countries such as Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives, exhibits a significant degree of variety, accompanied by a multitude of intricate factors. The establishment of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) in 1985 was a sincere endeavor to cultivate regionalism within the subcontinent. Notwithstanding its conceptual merit, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has seen limited success in realizing its goals, principally due to the persistent tensions between its prominent constituents, India and Pakistan. The absence of coherent political intent has adversely affected regionalism in South Asia.
From an economic standpoint, it can be observed that South Asia is now experiencing rapid growth, positioning it as one of the most swiftly developing areas globally. India, characterized by its burgeoning middle class and notable technical progress, assumes a prominent role in the global arena. Nevertheless, smaller economies such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have comparable growth rates. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) implemented by China has developed as a notable economic entity in the area, giving rise to both prospects and concerns. The issue of significant debt obligations linked to Chinese investment has raised apprehension.
The political structures in South Asia exhibit significant variations. India, being the greatest democracy globally, stands in contrast to its neighboring nations, such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which have had instances of military coups and civil turmoil throughout their history. In contrast, Bhutan continues to function as a monarchy, employing a distinctive methodology for pursuing progress, which is evaluated by means of Gross National Happiness as opposed to Gross Domestic Product. The presence of a wide range of political systems presents significant obstacles to the process of regional integration. The growing engagement of China in South Asia has prompted a reconfiguration of geopolitical interests. Nations such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives are progressively turning their attention to China in search of economic opportunities and military collaborations, thereby introducing complexities to the regional dynamics. Moreover, the United States’ strategic shift towards Asia highlights the growing significance of this area within the context of global geopolitics. Given the competing interests of these more influential nations, the smaller nations within the area frequently encounter themselves ensnared in a precarious position.
The South Asian area has a diverse array of religions and ethnicities, contributing to the intricate nature of interregional dynamics. The socio-political ramifications of the Hindu-Muslim split, Buddhist communities, and Sikh populations, among other groups, are noteworthy. The adverse impact of the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka and the religious difference between India and Pakistan on the promotion of regionalism is evident.
Border issues, such as the ongoing Kashmir war between the neighboring nations of India and Pakistan, pose substantial obstacles to the establishment of regional cooperation. Moreover, the matter of terrorism, sometimes endorsed by states or at the very least allowed by certain nations, presents a security concern that complicates the prospect of enhanced collaboration. The subject of climate change is gaining prominence as a matter of great importance that South Asian nations cannot afford to overlook. The geographical area under consideration encompasses many climatic hotspots, notably the Himalayas and the Sundarbans, which are progressively vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as the retreat of glaciers and the escalation of sea levels. The presence of environmental concerns has the potential to intensify pre-existing social and political conflicts. Water shortage has the potential to exacerbate disputes between governments that have shared river systems. As the South Asian area increasingly assimilates into the global digital world, it is imperative for the region to confront and address the challenges pertaining to cybersecurity. This encompasses a wide range of issues, spanning from safeguarding data privacy to addressing the challenges posed by online radicalization and cyber warfare. The significance of the socio-political components of these difficulties cannot be overstated, as the progress in technology has the potential to either facilitate regional collaboration or exacerbate rivalry and conflict.
The subject of gender equality in South Asia is undergoing significant socio-political transformations. The involvement of women in politics, business, and social action is seeing a notable upward trend, potentially yielding significant consequences for the growth and cooperation of the area. Nevertheless, persistent challenges such as cultural barriers, institutional inequalities, and gender-based violence remain significant obstacles.
The significant impact of media on creating public perception and subsequently affecting socio-political dynamics cannot be emphasized enough. Within the context of South Asia, the media frequently assumes a dual function, wherein it may serve as a conduit for promoting comprehension and collaboration or, alternatively, as a mechanism for disseminating propaganda that exacerbates societal divisions. The aforementioned phenomenon is clearly observable in the manner in which media outlets across different nations depict their neighboring countries, hence exerting a substantial influence on the potential for regional collaboration.
In light of evolving global dynamics, governments in South Asia are actively forging alliances that extend beyond their conventional allies. The interplay between India’s burgeoning ties with the United States, Pakistan’s alignment with China, and Sri Lanka’s approach to Russia has significant implications for regional politics. The task of managing these collaborations while sustaining regional stability is a multifaceted endeavor that necessitates careful equilibrium on the part of each country involved.
The socio-political dynamics of South Asia are multi-faceted, influenced by a rich tapestry of historical events, cultural diversities, and geopolitical factors. While traditional challenges like territorial disputes and political polarization continue to hinder regionalism, new dimensions such as climate change, cybersecurity, and gender equality are adding layers of complexity. However, despite these challenges, there remains an untapped potential for collaboration and growth. As South Asia evolves, understanding these intricate dynamics will be key to unlocking the region’s full potential.
Pakistan’s Role in the United Nations
Pakistan, since its inception in 1947, has played a pivotal role in the United Nations (UN), contributing significantly to global efforts in promoting peace, security, stability, and development. With a commitment to multilateral diplomacy and a history of active participation in various UN initiatives, Pakistan has emerged as a responsible and reliable member of the international community. Pakistan has played very important role in the United Nations and its contributions to global peace, security, stability, and development are always acknowledged.
One of the most visible and significant contributions of Pakistan to the UN is its involvement in peacekeeping missions. Pakistan is consistently among the top contributors of troops and personnel to UN peacekeeping operations. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Pakistan had deployed over 6,000 troops and police officers in various UN peacekeeping missions around the world, making it one of the largest troop contributors.
Pakistan’s peacekeepers have been stationed in conflict zones across the globe, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, and Haiti, where they have played a crucial role in maintaining peace, delivering humanitarian aid, and assisting in post-conflict reconstruction. These efforts have not only earned Pakistan international recognition but have also made a tangible difference in the lives of people affected by conflicts.
Advocacy for Disarmament
Pakistan has consistently advocated for disarmament and non-proliferation efforts within the United Nations. As a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan understands the grave consequences of nuclear warfare and has actively participated in disarmament negotiations. It has supported initiatives such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) to promote global disarmament.
Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees
Pakistan has a long history of hosting refugees, particularly from neighboring Afghanistan. The country has welcomed millions of Afghan refugees over the decades, providing them with shelter, education, and healthcare. Pakistan’s efforts in this regard align with the UN’s mission to protect and assist refugees, contributing to regional stability and human development.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Pakistan is committed to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The government has taken significant steps to align its national development agenda with the SDGs, focusing on poverty reduction, gender equality, clean energy, and climate action, among other areas. Pakistan’s dedication to these goals demonstrates its commitment to global development and a sustainable future.
Climate Change Action
Pakistan recognizes the urgent need to address climate change, and it has actively engaged in international climate negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The country has committed to reducing its carbon emissions and increasing its reliance on clean energy sources. Pakistan’s participation in global climate efforts contributes to the stability and sustainability of the planet.
Mediation and Conflict Resolution
Pakistan has often played a role in mediating conflicts in the region, demonstrating its commitment to regional and global peace. It has facilitated talks between various parties in Afghanistan and has sought peaceful solutions to regional disputes, aligning with the UN’s mission to prevent and resolve conflicts.
On behalf of the Government and people of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, attended the 78th Session of UN General Assembly and delivered a speech on 22 September 2023. The highlights of his speech are:
1. I convey to you, Mr. President, our warm congratulations on your election to guide the work of this historic Session of the UN General Assembly. I am confident that your vast diplomatic experience, and the sunny disposition of your beautiful Island country, will enable you to steer this Assembly to a most successful conclusion.
2. We are meeting at a tense and pivotal moment in modern history. Conflicts rage in Ukraine and in 50 other places around the world. Tensions between the global powers have continued to escalate. We see the rise of new and old military and political blocs. Geo-politics is resurging when geo-economics should have primacy in the world. The world cannot afford Cold War 2.0. There are far greater challenges confronting humankind which demand global cooperation and collective action.
3. The world’s economic prospects also appear gloomy. Global growth is slow. High interest rates could trigger a recession. A succession of exogenous “shocks” – Covid, conflict and climate change – have devastated the economies of many developing countries; many countries of the global South have barely managed to stave off defaults. Poverty and hunger have grown, reversing the development gains of three decades.
4. At yesterday’s SDG Summit, far-reaching commitments were made to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. We must ensure implementation of the “SDG Stimulus”; the re-channeling of unused Special Drawing Rights for development; the expansion of concessional lending by the Multilateral Development Banks; and the resolution of the debt problems of the 59 countries in debt distress.
5. Pakistan also looks forward to the fulfillment of the climate change commitments made at COP28 by the developed world: to provide over $100 billion in annual climate finance; allocate at least half of such finance for adaptation in developing countries; operationalise the Fund and funding arrangements for Loss and Damage; and accelerate their carbon emission mitigation targets to “keep alive” the goal of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. Attempts to selectively provide these funds on the basis of geo-political considerations should be resisted.
6. Pakistan’s triple food, fuel & finance challenge, is a prime illustration of the impacts of Covid, conflicts and climate on developing countries. Pakistan is one of the worst affected countries from the impacts of climate change. The epic floods of last summer submerged a third of our country, killed 1700 and displaced over 8 million people, destroyed vital infrastructure and caused over $30 billion in damage to Pakistan’s economy.
7. Pakistan is gratified by the commitments of over $10.5 billion for Pakistan’s comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction with resilience – the 4RF Plan – at the Geneva Conference last January. Specific projects are being submitted to ensure timely funding and execution of the 4RF Plan. I hope our development partners will accord priority to allocation (release) of funds for our “resilient” recovery Plan which has been costed at $13 billion.
8. Pakistan’s government is committed to rapid economic recovery. We will stabilize our foreign exchange reserves and our currency; expand domestic revenues and, most importantly, mobilize significant domestic and external investment. To this end, we have established a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to expedite investment decisions. Twenty-eight projects have been identified in priority sectors – agriculture, mining, energy and IT – for implementation in collaboration with Pakistan’s partners.
9. Pakistan’s long-term shift to geo-economics is well underway. The second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been initiated covering railway, infrastructure, and manufacturing projects.
10. Pakistan also looks forward to the early implementation of the “Connectivity” projects with Central Asia.
11. Development depends on peace. Pakistan is situated in one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. Pakistan believes that regions develop together. Therefore, Pakistan desires peaceful and productive relations with all our neighbours, including India. Kashmir is the key to peace between Pakistan and India.
12. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest issues on the agenda of the Security Council. India has evaded implementation of the Security Council’s resolutions which call for the “final disposition” of Jammu and Kashmir to be decided by its people through UN-supervised plebiscite.
13. Since 5 August 2019, India has deployed 900,000 troops in Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to impose the “Final Solution” for Kashmir. To this end, India has imposed extended lockdowns and curfews; jailed all the genuine Kashmir leaders; violently suppressed peaceful protests; resorted to extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in fake “encounters” and so-called “cordon and search operations”, and imposed collective punishments, destroying entire villages. Access to occupied Kashmir, demanded by the UN High Commission for Human Rights and over a dozen Special Rapporteurs, has been denied by New Delhi.
14. The UN Security Council must secure the implementation of its resolutions on Kashmir. The UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) should be reinforced. Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons.
15. Peace in Afghanistan is a strategic imperative for Pakistan. Pakistan shares the concerns of international community with respect to Afghanistan particularly the rights of women and girls. Yet, we advocate continued humanitarian assistance to a destitute Afghan population in which Afghan girls and women are the most vulnerable; as well as revival of the Afghan economy and implementation of the connectivity projects with Central Asia.
16. Pakistan’s first priority is to prevent and counter all terrorism from and within Afghanistan. Pakistan condemns the cross- border terrorist attacks against Pakistan by the TTP, Daesh and other groups operating from Afghanistan. We have sought Kabul’s support and cooperation to prevent these attacks. However, we are also taking necessary measures to end this externally encouraged terrorism.
17. Pakistan welcomes the progress made towards ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. In particular, we warmly welcome the normalization of relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unfortunately, the tragedy of Palestine continues, with Israeli military raids, airstrikes, expansion of settlements and evictions of Palestinians. Durable peace can be established only through a two state solution and the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State within the pre June 1967 borders, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.
18. UN peacekeeping has been a success story. Over more than 6 decades, Pakistan has contributed 230,000 peacekeepers in 47 Missions across the world. Today, UN peacekeepers face complex and unprecedented challenges especially from criminal and terrorist groups, as in the Sahel. We must ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers. Pakistan shall continue to work with the UN to develop the capabilities and more robust mandates required for successful enforcement actions by UN and international forces where needed.
19. We must counter all terrorists without discrimination, including the rising threat posed by far-right extremist and fascist groups, such as Hindutva-inspired extremists threatening genocide against India’s Muslims and Christians. We also need to oppose “state terrorism”; address the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, injustice and foreign occupation; and distinguish genuine freedom struggles from terrorism. Pakistan proposes the creation of a Committee of the General Assembly to oversee the balanced implementation of all four pillars of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.
20. Our progress based on rich history of cooperation, understanding, exchange and synthesis of ideas among (the) civilizations is imperiled today. The narratives advocating a clash of civilizations have done considerable harm to humanity’s progress. Such ideas have bred extremism, hatred and religious intolerance, including Islamophobia. Make no mistake; it is a latent threat that undermines millennia of progress. We need to cherish and celebrate our diversity and different ways of life. Mutual respect, sanctity of religious symbols, scriptures and personages should be ensured.
21. While Islamophobia is an age-old phenomenon; however, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it has assumed epidemic proportions, as manifested in the negative profiling of Muslims; and attacks on Islamic sites and symbols, such as the recent public burnings of the Holy Quran.
22. Last year, this Assembly adopted a Resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, declaring 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Earlier this year, the Human Rights Council adopted an OIC resolution submitted by Pakistan, urging States to outlaw the burning of the Holy Quran and similar provocations. We welcome the legislation initiated by Denmark and contemplated by Sweden towards this end. Pakistan and the OIC countries will propose further steps to combat Islamophobia, including the appointment of a Special Envoy, creation of an Islamophobia data Centre, legal assistance to victims and an accountability process to punish Islamophobic crimes.
23. The complex global and regional challenges that the world faces today can be best addressed through effective multilateralism within the framework of the United Nations. However, multilateralism is being eschewed due to the unilateral policies of and strategic rivalry and tensions between global powers. Pakistan will continue to work actively to strengthen multilateral institutions and enhance global cooperation.
24. Pakistan looks forward to continuing negotiations on the scope and elements of the Summit of the Future and the Pact for the Future, building on the convergences that emerged in earlier consultations.
25. The Summit’s preparatory process must not disrupt existing negotiating processes such as the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the reform of the Security Council.
26. Pakistan does not believe in elitism within the comity of nations. The UN Charter principles of equality and sovereignty must be preserved in the interest of global peace and prosperity. Pakistan believes that adding additional permanent members to the Security Council will further erode its credibility and legitimacy. The widest possible agreement can be best achieved on the basis of the Uniting for Consensus Group’s proposal for expansion of the Council only in the non-permanent category with provision for a limited number of longer-term seats.
27. Pakistan believes that to build, preserve and promote peace and prosperity today, and in the future, it is vital to reduce great power rivalry and tensions; ensure strict adherence to the UN Charter; consistently implement Security Council resolutions; eliminate the root causes of conflicts; and respect the principles of non-use of force; self-determination; sovereignty and territorial integrity; noninterference in the internal affairs of States and peaceful co- existence.
28. Pakistan will work diligently and actively with all Member States to realize these vital elements of a new, equitable and peaceful world order.
Pakistan’s role in the United Nations is marked by its unwavering commitment to global peace, security, stability, and development. Through active participation in peacekeeping missions, advocacy for disarmament, humanitarian assistance, commitment to the SDGs, climate change action, and mediation efforts, Pakistan has consistently shown its dedication to the principles and goals of the United Nations. As a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan continues to make significant contributions that benefit not only its own citizens but also people around the world, reinforcing the importance of multilateral diplomacy and cooperation in addressing global challenges.
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