September 23, 2017
Prime Minister Abbasi’s Performance in New York was Excellent
By Saeed Qureshi
First of all, prime minister Shahid Khanq Abbasi was dressed up in typical Pakistani national costumes. There was no ostentation, no show off and even without a necktie he looked graceful. I wonder if our leaders too, once a while, represent Pakistani culture by way of wearing the national dress and look as a typical Pakistan as we see around in Pakistan.
Let us talk on the vital issues which the interim Prime minister picked up in New York and the way he robustly presented Pakistan’s’ outlook and policies on those issues. He was not apprehensive that by resolutely presenting Pakistan’s stance, there would be negative reaction from hostile countries. He was straightforward and point blank on regional and international issues that somehow concern Pakistan by way of nationalism, religion or sovereignty of our country.
The principal difference between the erstwhile PM of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is that the former was not vocal or outspoken, was shy and lacked confidence in dishing out his thoughts and perceptions to his interlocutors. He lacked the art of articulation in English. That deficiency was apparent in Sharif’s meeting with the former president of United State Barack Obama. In that meeting, he didn’t seem to be speaking a single sentence and was holding a piece of paper to be read out in front of president Obama. That display was rather shameful and nauseating.
The issues that prime minister Abbasi raised and highlighted in his address at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, are of vital importance to Pakistan. It was utterly necessary to clearly lay-out Pakistan’s perceptions and outlook on those interstate or regional issues.
For instance, in regard to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan he “urged the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to Kashmir, as the struggle of the people in the region is being "brutally suppressed" by India. Prime Minister Abbasi accused India of indulging in terror activities against Pakistan and warned of a "matching response" in case India ventures across the LoC (Line of Control)" or acts upon its doctrine of “limited war” against Pakistan.
Mian Nawaz Sharif was reticent on expressing the national outlook of Pakistan and raising the finger at India. He had a policy of pacification towards India which emboldened that neighboring country to perpetrate diabolic atrocities in the Indian part of Kashmir where an unremitting anti-India outrage is going on. India has been presently silencing and suppressing the Kashmiris to be allowed to express their opinion via a plebiscite either to remain with India or with Pakistan.
Abbasi conveyed to the world community that while Pakistan has hugely suffered in all manners, because of its involvement in Afghanistan war on the side of United States in fighting against the dissidents both islamic and otherwise, it is unjustifiably being blamed by the new American president Trump for the continuing chaos and renewal of anti-Afghans rebel fighters including Taliban and Al-Qaeda etc. He dubbed president Trump for his uncalled allegation that Pakistan was harboring the militants to fight in Afghanistan against the government there and the American troops.
In this regard, he presented figures detailing that since the war on terror beginning from September 11, 2001 onwards, 27000 Pakistani soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Abbasi argued that further military efforts and fighting to end the Afghanistan’s persistent crisis would be futile. He suggested that the best way-out of this quagmire was a political solution and not a military onslaught.
While rejecting president Trump’s denunciation of Pakistan as a state harboring terrorist, Abbasi categorically decried this insinuation.at the same time Abbasi announced not to fight for others anymore all the more when Pakistan was being tipped as a “scapegoat” for failure of American and her allies’ over two decades long military adventure in Afghanistan: first against the Soviet Union (1979-1989) and later against Al-Qaida other religious warier bands (2001-2016).
He emphasized that despite Pakistan’s historic role in Afghanistan to help American and coalition forces, Pakistan was being blamed for a stalemate in Afghanistan and a kind of scapegoat. It was not only a travesty of the truth but passing on a false blame on a trusted ally. As such Pakistan was not going to be involved in that fruitless fratricidal military campaign anymore or to fight wars for others.
Pakistan’s prime minister took a very hard and factual stand about India. He particularly mentioned the Indian brutalities in the occupied Kashmir as well as persistent human right violations there. Besides he pointed out the military violations by India on the line of control between India and Pakistan. Referring to India’s “limited military option” against Pakistan, he said that Pakistan was ready to give a befitting response to such a military adventure.
Emphasizing the right of self-determination to be exercised by Kashmiris in the light of the United Nations’ Resolution, prime minister Abbasi called upon the world community for its implementation. Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to the charter of the United Nations he assured the world body that Pakistan stood for international peace, strengthening democratic culture and fighting such issues as environmental degradation etc.
He took up the case of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims by the Burmese government and called upon the international community to join hand for end to the spate of brutality against a defenseless and peaceful community.
All these statements demonstrated Pakistan’s new role as a country not be cowed down by the world powers such as United States under president Trump who put blame on Pakistan for American debacle in Afghanistan.
Prime minister Abbasi was outspoken, candid and versatile in his meetings on the sidelines or where he was invited as the chief guest. At the session arranged by Council on Foreign Relations a prestigious American think tank, Abbasi answered the questions in a scholarly and confident manner. It was for the first time in such a prestigious and high profile intellectual atmosphere that he eloquently spoke on behalf of Pakistan and spelt out national perceptions on the questions asked by the participants.
Though a symbolic public relation exercise, his meeting with Mike Pence the vice president of United States went quite well and had been positive in regards to harmonizing relations between the two longtime allies both in war and peace.
Since prime minister Abbasi was educated in the United States, he did not feel any difficulty or inhibition in socially harmonizing himself in United States. He holds a Master's degree from George Washington University USA, and a bachelor degree in the same discipline from University of California. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has a 29-year experience of mainstream politics and is a foreign-qualified Electrical Engineer.
There seems to be a redeeming feature of the change of the prime ministers in Pakistan. Mian Nawaz Sharif wouldn’t have the necessary clout, knowledge, confidence and aptitude of candid expression in English to achieve what Khaqan Abbasi has been able to convey and excel. On the whole, it could be adjudged that this visit of the substitute prime minister on the whole was successful.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com