That nothing worthwhile emerged from the ‘closed door meeting’ on Kashmir at the UNSC shouldn’t come as a surprise to the people of Pakistan. After all, didn’t Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi already warn them in advance not to live in a “fool’s paradise” because when Islamabad would take the Kashmir issue to UNSC, no one would be waiting for them with “garlands in their hands.”
Some feel that being the FM, Qureshi shouldn’t have sounded so negative but his detractors fail to realise that he really didn’t have any other choice since Poland, which is the current president UNSC, had already rejected Islamabad’s request of raising the Kashmir issue at this forum on the grounds that it should be resolved “bilaterally.”
The hearing that Islamabad eventually managed to get at UNSC was a face-saving and heavily compromised alternative hastily brokered by its “all weather” friend China. For Islamabad, which was anxiously rearing to pounce upon New Delhi for its decision to revoke special status in J&K, which it believes is an “illegal” that “violate UN resolutions on Kashmir.” For Islamabad, which was making so much noise, this came as a big climbdown.
Instead of getting a chance to use the UNSC podium for internationalising Kashmir, the meeting was held without Pakistan being in attendance. Being a ‘closed door meeting’ it was held under the less formal provision of “any other business” and to make things even more embarrassing, instead of deliberating on the issue of New Delhi’s latest actions in J&K as proposed by Pakistan, the agenda of the discussion was “India-Pakistan question.”
No records of what transpires during ‘closed door meeting’ at UNSC are maintained and details of its deliberations aren’t made public. No statement is issued unless all its 15 members agree to do so and only a communique is made. In the absence of any statement, it’s more than evident that the UNSC members didn’t find any merit in the allegations and apprehensions levelled by Islamabad regarding New Delhi’s actions in J&K and its intent. But despite this, Islamabad is still terming this informal meeting that doesn’t even maintain a record of its proceedings, nor issues any statement, a big success.
Pakistan’s envoy to UN, Maleeha Lodhi is jubilant that “The voice of the Kashmiri people resonated in the chambers of the world’s highest diplomatic forum today,” but the people want to know the practical significance and positive implications of voices resonating in the UNSC. Similarly, in interpreting the ‘closed door meeting’ as being an act of the “whole world” discussing Kashmir and thereby deducing that Kashmir “is an international dispute,” Ms Lodhi has stretched things a bit too far.
New Delhi may be annoyed with Beijing for having arranged a ‘closed door meeting’ at UNSC for Islamabad, but in retrospect, it has actually done New Delhi a great favour. Refusal of UNSC president Ms Joanna Wronecka to formally entertain Islamabad’s request for intervention highlights the fact that the international community respects India’s stand on Kashmir. Lack of any statement by UNSC after its ‘closed door meeting’ gives India’s stand of Kashmir being its integral part a collective ‘thumbs up’ from the international community.
Islamabad too has done New Delhi a big favour by approaching UN because Stephane Dujarric who is the spokesman for Secretary General Antonio Guterres made once again made it clear that the UN chief “recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Shimla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”
After Islamabad’s abysmal failure at UNSC, Beijing did try and console Pakistan. In a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart, Beijing’s UN ambassador Zhang did say that “India has violated bilateral agreement to keep peace in the border areas” and “It is obvious the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo by India.” But since these views wern’t conveyed by UNSC either in its communique or in the form of statement, it’s obvious that this is the viewpoint of Beijing and not that of UNSC. Some also see this statement as a means to divert attention from the fact that out of 15 members, Beijing was the only one who was on Pakistan’s side.
Finally, all that Islamabad can boast about is that “The voice of the Kashmiri people resonated in the chambers of the world’s highest diplomatic forum,” which one can safely conclude either fell on deaf ears or wasn’t convincing because UNSC didn’t come out with any statement in support of Islamabad. But this was expected all along because the moment UNSC president refused to formally take up Pakistan’s request, it was obvious that Islamabad’s stratagem had misfired.
This is the reason why everyone had their fingers crossed when Qureshi who had warned Pakistanis to stop living in a “fool’s paradise,” suddenly changed track by telling the media in advance that the UNSC ‘closed door meeting’ was Pakistan’s big success on the diplomatic front. But then, Qureshi has always been a dreamer and a die-hard optimist to the point of gullibility- after all, wasn’t he the one who just recently hailed US President Donald Trump’s ludicrous offer of mediation on Kashmir as something that was “more than Pakistan’s expectations”!