Despite mounting Western pressure to condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN on Wednesday called for the de-escalation of tensions and sustained dialogue.
The UNGA resolution, supported by 141 of the assembly’s 193 members, ended a rare emergency session called by the UN Security Council as Ukrainian forces battled on in the face of Russian airstrikes that have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee.
Ambassador Munir Akram, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the world body, did address the General Assembly but abstained from voting on a resolution that “deplored” the military action against Ukraine and “demands” Russia withdraw from its neighboring country.
In his speech, Akram did not condemn Russia’s military action against Ukraine. He emphasized that “Pakistan is committed to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter: self-determination of peoples, non-use or threat of use of force, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and pacific settlement of disputes”.
He did not mention Russia in his speech, where he also stressed that Pakistan upheld the “principle of equal and indivisible security for all”. The statement appeared to refer to the concerns of Russia that led to its military offensive against Ukraine.
Russia had sought guarantees from the West and the US, calling upon them not to expand NATO and avoid conducting military drills at its borders. But the US and its Western allies had turned down both the demands, leading to the collapse of diplomatic efforts.
Ahead of the UNGA emergency session, the first, in two decades and 7th overall, Pakistan was asked by the members of the EU, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and other countries to vote in favor of the resolution against Russia. However, Pakistan resisted the pressure and opted to abstain from voting in order to maintain a fine balance in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Selective application of law
Akram also subtly referred to the selective application of the UN Charter and international law. “These principles must be consistently and universally respected,” he stressed in an apparent reference to an indifferent approach by the Western countries towards the plight of Palestinians and Kashmiris.
He said Pakistan remained deeply concerned at the recent turn of events. “This reflects a failure of diplomacy,” he said. He also mentioned that PM Imran Khan had regretted the latest situation between Russia and Ukraine, and said that Pakistan had hoped that diplomacy could avert the military conflict.
“We have since repeatedly stressed the need for de-escalation, renewed negotiations, sustained dialogue, and continuous diplomacy,” he further said. He stressed that all efforts must be made to avoid further escalation of violence and loss of life as well as military, political, and economic tensions, which could pose an unprecedented threat to international peace and security and global economic stability.
“A diplomatic solution in accordance with relevant multilateral agreements, international law, and the provisions of the UN Charter is indispensable,” he said. Pakistan, he added, also supported all efforts to provide humanitarian relief to civilians in the affected areas.
“The Government of Pakistan is most concerned about the safety and welfare of Pakistani citizens and students in Ukraine. The majority of them have been evacuated. Those who remain will be evacuated soonest. We appreciate the cooperation of the Ukrainian authorities as well as the Polish, Romanian and Hungarian governments in this context.”
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