Pakistan’s re-election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on Tuesday is an affirmation of our successful foreign policy and of the progress Pakistan has made on the international front. The fact that Pakistan was elected with a majority of 169 votes in the 193-member UN General Assembly, and it secured the highest number of votes among the five candidates from the Asia-Pacific region vying for four seats, reflects that the reforms Pakistan has been undertaking within its country, and the diplomatic support we have lent to human rights causes internationally, have not gone unnoticed by the international community. This rightfully won position is not just a coincidence but earned through a year of diplomacy and advocacy.

However, it should also be noted that Pakistan has been serving on the HRC since January 2018. With Tuesday’s re-election, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term commencing on Jan 1, 2021. The next few years are crucial for human rights causes like that of Indian Illegally-Occupied Kashmir (IIOK).

If the international community does not recognise the Indian atrocities and illegal annexation of Kashmir, it is possible that the damage can be irreversible then. It is then more important than ever that Pakistan continues to try its hardest in the HRC to raise the issue of Kashmir, and reach across the aisle to gain support from different countries.

This would require a lot of backchannel work, negotiations and persistence. Moreover, this also requires consistency and strong credentials—this means being consistent in our advocacy for different human rights struggles, for example, the human rights concerns in Palestine, as well as ensuring our own legislation is compliant and supports the HRC.