Since there are many political events taking place this autumn, I shall today choose a few that I consider particularly important and offer my considerations and comments.

First, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he again drew attention to the protracted Kashmir issues, unresolved since 1947. Pakistan wants “serious and result-oriented talks with India, especially to resolve the longstanding core disputes of Jammu and Kashmir”.

But the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj said that “Kashmir remains an integral part of India. No one can take it by force.” To which Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations replied that “Jammu and Kashmir never was and can never be an integral part of India”.

It is a dispute between the two countries, which is a scar on both and the region. It hampers development and cooperation; the military costs are enormous, and indeed the human suffering. When a solution will eventually be found, as we must believe will happen, the military expenditure and personnel size in both countries can be reduced. I hope the military men can accept that and most of them be transferred to civilian tasks.

I have earlier written that totally new approaches must be sought to solve the Kashmir issue, even alternative forms of government found, such as some form of joint jurisdiction to include the two countries, other neighbouring countries and perhaps neutral members from elsewhere, alongside the Kashmiri people themselves. Then, perhaps there could be a hope for Kashmir’s self-determination and it becoming one country, or two in a close union. We who are getting old have not managed to find any solution; it is the opportunity and duty of the youth to think alternatively and find unorthodox ways. Perhaps there is a possibility for this process to begin now when there is more attention given to the conflict than in a while. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has again taken it up, in the eleventh hour of his ten-year term in office.

My second topic this week is the selection of a new UN Chief from January 2017. I had thought there might be a chance for a woman to head the world body for the first time, maybe someone like the former New Zealand PM and UNDP head, Helen Clark. Russia has expressed that they would like a UN Chief from a former Soviet Union country, but it seems the candidates from Eastern Europe have not done too well in the ongoing vetting process. The recent news, after ‘straw polls’ in the UN Security Council have been held, indicates that Antonio Guterres (67) is clearly in the lead. He is former a Portuguese PM (1995-2002) and a 10-year head of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. If any of the Security Council members vetoes a candidate, the process is again thrown open. If Guterres should win, it is my opinion that another fairly bureaucratic, less political, UN Chief will be chosen, someone more like Ban Ki-Moon, and less like his predecessor, Kofi Annan (1997-2006). In our time, with the EU’s and NATO’s leadership roles diminishing, even America’s, there is need for a visible and courageous UN leader, and a stronger international organisation. Of course, the person and organisation must not overshadow or distance himself/herself too much from USA’s world leadership role. An earlier UN Chief, Boutros Boutros-Ghali was denied a second term in the post in 1996, much because he was too independent vis-a-vis the superpower.

The third topic of my article today is about politics in the United Kingdom and Europe, not so much about Theresa May, the new PM, but more about the leader of the opposition and the large Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn. He was just reconfirmed as his party’s leader after challenges about his style and policies, being quite far on the left, while the majority of his colleagues in parliament are in the centre or right of the party. They don’t even quite recognise their leader, denying him the possibility to establish a ‘shadow cabinet’, as in common in UK.

Much can be said about current politics in the UK, including the ‘Brexit’, Scotland’s independence ambitions, the Northern Ireland issue, and more. Sooner or later it would be natural that Northern Ireland politically, not only geographically, became a part of the Republic of Ireland, with which it shares the same island, rather than remaining a part of UK, which in many ways was and still is seen as a colonial master.

It seems that the otherwise very democratic UK has some problems with being democratic these days, and, the country still has greater class differences than most of the rest of Europe. Sometimes, it looks like those who traditionally ruled and decided on issues take it for granted that they have a right to do so even now. Yes, often based on common sense rather than heavy-handedness, but still, it isn’t quite democratic. The new PM was chosen by a limited number of leaders, not in a general election; she and her Conservative Party do not even feel the need for fresh elections in several years. The way the Labour Party leader is treated is also below common standards of democracy. I believe, too, that the ‘Brexit’ vote, although close to 50-50 may not lead to UK leaving the EU entirely if the establishment, the old guard of ‘real Brits’ finds it better to stay in. In that case, I would side with the establishment!

As for the Labour Party and Corbyn, I would indeed side with it being a leftist party; I do not like the disloyal centrists and conservatives; they could go to other parties. I find it extremely important that the UK, and the rest of the world, have socialist and other political parties on the left. I don’t think it is right that conservative parties take up too many leftist ideas; I think there should be a difference between parties, and I don’t think the centrist parties should be too big either, but they may have a role as debate forums and questioners, challenging both sides in politics. I hope that the Labour Party, and other parties on the left, who actually built the welfare states in Europe, can modernise and continue to have a role – with the conservatives too, modernising and defining their foundations. We always need checks and balances, indeed in parties and politics, to keep democracy alive.

In USA, I believe there is a weak political party culture. I hope the parties can be revived, with new parties, too. The two major parties often almost look quite alike, albeit with fundamental differences, too. I hope those differences, and each party’s foundation can be defined better in future. Americans should focus more on policies, less on individuals. The American presidential elections are almost a parody of politics, especially since some – well, this year, many – things that are said in the campaign would be better suited to a light theatre play rather than a serious election campaign in the world’s most powerful country.

‘Only in America’, the slogan goes. Donald Trump is such a phenomenon. Sometimes, when I follow the campaign on TV, I don’t think he really wants to win the presidential election (and that is good!), considering the many strange ideas he has and the outlandish things he says. I suspect he is scared of winning, and he never thought he would reach this far in the ‘game’; he just wanted to give it a try and be able to do better in business as a side-effect, especially in the TV and entertainment industry. I believe it is quite obvious he will lose, but then he has achieved his ‘business goal’ – although I don’t think he was in it only for that reason. I would welcome a Democrat Party person in the White House for another term. I am glad it is a woman, and Hillary Clinton will be a safe pair of hands and I hope she borrows the best from President Barrack Obama’s ideals, and some of Bernie Sanders’ and Jeremy Corbyn’s basic social science analysis.