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EDITORIAL: The annual session of the UN General Assembly provides the world with a crucial forum from where the member countries’ leaders apprise the international community of their plans and policies on issues they want the world to know and seek support in pursuance of their respective foreign policy objectives. For Pakistan, the current session of the world body is no less critical as the country faces serious challenges of evolving political situation in Afghanistan and India’s war crimes in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). As to the nature and scale of Indian war crimes, Pakistan has already informed the world community by presenting it a dossier. Of course that was an appropriate step, but more important was the need that somebody should also remain present throughout the month-long session of the UN General Assembly to garner support for the country’s foreign policy objectives. And who could be a better choice for this task than the Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Shehryar Afridi himself. But to it there is a caveat; it was his first-ever visit to New York where the UN headquarters is located and for that he had to land at John F Kennedy Airport where things didn’t go well with him. Although he had the official passport, the staff at the airport doubted his credentials and subjected him to what is called “secondary search”. That he was also stripped for body search was fake news.

Naturally, for someone who has been a member of Pakistan’s federal cabinet and was now on official visit what happened to him on arrival was a great embarrassment. It appears that he took it to his heart. Also, being a devout follower of his leader, Prime Minister Imran Khan, he was unhappy with the US government over President Biden’s reluctance to talk to his leader over phone. In the eyes of many in Pakistan this no-call riddle is a serious matter, and Shahryar Afridi couldn’t be an exception. That being his state of mind he wanted to tell the Americans what they are, and then go to the UN complex. He went out of his place of stay with a view to showing to the Americans their ‘real picture’. As he reached the Times Square he pointed towards a homeless woman, and remarked, “See the condition of this woman in a country which lectures others on human rights. This is not just a political slogan but a reality, a ground reality. Pakistanis belonging to all ethnicities give respect to women”. He spoke from his heart but many, including his own party men and women, took it as a crude, undiplomatic gesture on the part of a person who was sent there to raise international awareness about India’s war crimes in IIOJK. One would say that Shahryar Afridi should not have been assigned a task that demands excessive discretion and prudence. That he has attracted strong criticism is a grim reality: some accuse him of deviating from his assigned duty while others say he has made a fool of himself.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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