It was after a long time sane and strong voice of Pakistan was heard at the multi storied building in New York. One of the reasons for this was the fact that Pakistan did not have a foreign minister for nearly five years. The entire world diplomacy was left to Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative at the United Nations.

Similarly Pakistan did not have a professionally working Foreign Office at its capital Islamabad. The first statement of Shah Mehmood Qureshi after swearing in as Foreign Minister was that foreign policy would now be formulated at the Foreign Office. This clearly indicated that issues like Kashmir, nuclear programme and relations with India and USA would not be dealt elsewhere. There is a myth that perhaps GHQ dictates the foreign policy. The first strength of the new government in Pakistan is that it is on the same page with the military leadership. The trust deficit has ended and civil and military leadership are united on what could be called in the best of national interests. The foreign minister’s claim is right or wrong only the time will tell. But the voice of the new Pakistan in the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly was loud and clear indicating a paradigm shift in the foreign policy.

The speech came in the backdrop of recent developments in the region. Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat in a strongly worded but totally unguarded manner issued a statement threatening Pakistan of terrific consequences. His assertions were successfully responded by no less than the Prime Minister Imran Khan, COAS Qamar Bajwa and the Foreign Minister Qureshi telling not to go for any adventure or be ready repent.

In this backdrop Foreign Minister arrived at the UN and started meetings with the Secretary General of UN and foreign ministers of Egypt and Russia. In these meetings the Qureshi briefed the chief of UN and his counterparts about the atrocities and state terrorism that India has unleashed against Kashmiris, who are struggling for their right of self-determination against the occupation forces. He also briefed them about the situation in Afghanistan and reminded them of the efforts of Islamabad to bring peace there. He is also believed to have briefed them about the situation in region particularly the initiative taken by Beijing with Iran, Turkey and Pakistan to bring peace in war torn Afghanistan. This is being termed as regional approach. This initiative does not include India as it is not a close neighbour of Afghanistan.

The Pakistani foreign minister had a comprehensive interaction with US State Department holding several meetings with high ranking officials to undo the misunderstanding between decades old allies that is Pakistan and USA. It may not be correct to conclude that all misunderstandings have been removed but apparently the ice has started melting and both sides have agreed to continue consultations at various levels.

A great diplomatic victory is being seen here in foreign minister’s attempt to hold talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj despite India’s refusal to hold negotiations. The offer was made Prime Minister Imran Khan to Indian premier Nirendra Modi and Foreign Minister Qureshi to his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj. India had to face a lot of criticism for denying opportunity to resume dialogue.

The Indian Foreign Minister slipped in a hurry immediately after delivering her speech at the UN General Assembly, which is against the norms. Normally after the speech leaders interact with the international media waiting at the press centre. Apparently she had no valid reason for not facing questions from media. India’s national media is bitterly criticising this act of their foreign minister.

Qureshi was the first Pakistani to make a speech in Urdu at the UN General Assembly. Indian premier Modi was the first one to make speech in Hindi. Qureshi speaks English fluently but perhaps made this choice of speaking in Urdu to show to the world that we take pride in our language, culture and identity as Pakistanis.

In his speech he exposed India of being fully involved in terrorism. He spoke like a true leader of democratic and nuclear power country. Sushma in her earlier speech at the UNGA had clearly called Kashmiris struggling for their right of self-determination as terrorists. But she could not get away so easily. Qureshi tried to raise the world’s conscience about the genocide that is taking place in the occupied Kashmir. He called for settling the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the will of Kashmiri people. He warned India against trying to go for limited war and said that it would evoke a strong and matching response.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi is the first Pakistani leader to talk about Indian spy Kalbhushan Yadav and his role in financing, planning and executing terrorism act on the instructions of the Indian government. The point was missed by our leaders in 2016 and 2017 UN General Assembly sessions. India’s nefarious designs against Pakistan and how much damage it had done to us was exposed for the first time at an important international forum. It has raised the new Pakistani government’s morale to new heights.

We live in the world’s most dangerous region. Three nuclear powers Pakistan, India and China share common borders. Pakistan again called for Strategic Restraint for South Asia. It is India’s ambition to dominate its neighbouring states that SAARC has failed in its mission to bring peace and development in the region.

As Qureshi said in the UN General Assembly Pakistan is a changed country. The new government want to bring reforms in every sector. It wants to make great strides in development of country but not to compromise on the nation’s integrity and security. It wants peace with all its neighbours and want to settle all issues but with a pragmatic approach and deal with all countries including India on equality basis.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is all set to visit India today. It remains to be seen whether he will be able to stop jingoistic rhetoric of New Delhi and help in ending the Kashmiris misery.

 

The writer is a member of staff.

emansarfraz@hotmail.com

@EmanuelSarfraz