UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan yesterday criticized the aspirants for permanent seats in an expanded United Nations Security Council — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — for opposing that reform of the 15-member body should be guided by the principles of democracy.

“I have to say, the objection… has left us dumbfounded,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said in response to a document prepared by the co-chairs of the intergovernmental negotiations (IGN) identifying democracy and representativeness as shared principles of the UN membership that need to be taken into consideration in reforming the Security Council.

On the concluding day of the long-running IGN process that has been in progress for the past several months, Ambassador Lodhi responded to the Indian Permanent Representative, Syed Akbaruddin’s earlier assertions which questioned the centrality of these universal principles for the Council’s reform.

“This is the first time, we are hearing someone speak against the notion of democracy and representativeness in the august chambers of the United Nations,” the Pakistani envoy said while referring to the G-4’s objections.

“Is reform of the Council not fundamentally about equitable representation on the Council?,” Ambassador Lodhi asked. “We agree on practicing democracy at home but some countries here argue that it should not be practiced at the UN!”

Emphasizing that the purpose of the negotiations was to find areas that can serve as a common denominator, Ambassador Lodhi said it was argued that because the process lacked democracy, this should not be a guiding principle for reforming the Council.

“We can hardly agree with this assertion,” she said, adding, “Juxtaposing the absence of a text to the lack of democracy is disingenuous.”

Another argument, the Pakistani envoy said, was that because the Security Council was not democratic at present, its future should also be shorn of democracy and application of the principle of democracy to its reform should be cast aside.

“We agree that the Council’s present composition is not sufficiently democratic. But this is precisely the reason why any reform should strive to make it more democratic.”

The council’s reform, aimed at making it more representative and effective, was backed by the 2005 world summit held at UN Headquarters in New York.

Practically all member states agree on enlarging the membership of Council, but they are sharply divided over the details.

Progress towards restructuring the Security Council remains blocked as India and its allies known as the Group of Four — push for permanent seats while Italy/Pakistan-led Uniting for Consensus (UfC) group firmly oppose any additional permanent members.

As a compromise, UfC has proposed a new category of members — not permanent members — with longer duration and a possibility to get re-elected once in an effort to democratize the Council.

The Security Council is currently composed of five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and 10 non-permanent members that are elected in groups of five to two-year terms.

In the IGN this week , Italy, on behalf of the UfC, reiterated it call for expansion of the Security Council only in the 2-year non-permanent seats. Pointing this out, the Pakistani envoy said that despite this “some interventions claimed that no one supports expansion only in the 2-year non-permanent seats.”

“This makes us ask," she said, “are we not hearing each other or have we chosen to ignore inconvenient facts?”