EDITORIAL: The recent passing of the bipartisan resolution in the US House of Representatives that condemned what it deemed to be the violation of human, civil and political rights in our country, as well as calling into question the legitimacy of the February 8 general elections has clearly caught Pakistan’s foreign policy mandarins asleep at the wheel. This has been followed by the Geneva-based UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declaring that former prime minister Imran Khan has been arbitrarily imprisoned in violation of international law.

The subsequent attempts by the foreign office, government ministers and the National Assembly – through a resolution passed with a majority vote – to hit back at the criticisms leveled by the US Congress by terming these as “misinformed”, “neither constructive nor objective”, and declaring its action as akin to “interference” in Pakistan’s internal affairs cannot hide the less-than-proactive approach adopted by our diplomats and the government in heading off the Congressional censure in the first place. We would do well to remember that this resolution was introduced in the US Congress back in November 2023 when the caretaker authorities were still at the helm. It is clear that since then the foreign office bureaucracy, our diplomats in Washington DC, the erstwhile caretaker government as well as the PML(N)-led coalition that took power in February made little effort to engage with American lawmakers to assuage the significant concerns that have been raised by them.

Not only was there little preemptive action on the part of our diplomatic corps and government to head off the resolution through mobilising opinion in favour of the country’s official position, the response since then has bordered on the emotion without there being a thorough, point-by-point rejoinder to the criticisms leveled. This has only served to indicate that the contents of the resolution, passed with an overwhelming majority, may carry some weight after all.

Be that as it may, such criticism coming from the lawmakers of a country with a track record of disrupting democracy in various corners of the world does come across as hypocritical. Even so, these double standards cannot hide the inept diplomacy on our part, which was further highlighted by the complete lack of action on the UN working group’s 17-page report on Imran Khan’s detention. The group had sought the government’s response to its findings, which the authorities failed to provide. The belated reaction of Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar asserting that the arrest of the PTI founder was Pakistan’s internal matter is a weak riposte to a stinging rebuke from a major global body.

Coming back to the Congressional resolution, one would do well to note that it highlights the considerable influence the largely affluent Pakistani-American community – a significant portion of whom are PTI supporters – enjoys. In an election year, with US Congresspersons seeking to do everything possible to remain in the good books of their constituents, the passage of the resolution was hardly surprising, especially since lobbying activities by special interest groups are legal in the US. One does wonder though at the PTI’s duplicitous response to the matter at hand. It spent considerable energy in promoting a narrative that blamed US interference in Pakistan’s internal matters for its ouster from power, and now with positions reversed, it is positively exulting over the international reproach Pakistani authorities are facing.

While the US resolution may be a non-binding one and may have little immediate impact on the official American position towards Pakistan, it is still deeply embarrassing for the authorities and an indictment of our poor diplomatic efforts that could yet lead to adverse long-term repercussions. A comprehensive evaluation of the missteps that characterised our diplomatic approach to avoid future such setback is well in order.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Re=== Jul 05, 2024 07:20am
You live in a dark room and imagine everyone sees black. The UN, the US, and the entire world know what happened to the Pak elections. Good diplomacy cannot hide a bad election.
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Re=== Jul 05, 2024 07:22am
Pakistan constantly invites USA, UN, and the world's attention to so-called India's democracy issues; now, what is the problem if those same organizations turn their guns towards Pakistan?
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Re=== Jul 05, 2024 07:24am
We cannot rule out India's underhand in this whole thing. May be the next time if Pakistan stops interfering in India's business, India and the world will stop interfering in Pakistan's business.
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KU Jul 05, 2024 11:37am
Lame attempt on diplomacy, you have to be ignorant or down right complicit on important issue of violation of rights of Pakistanis and rigged election system that has polarized the country to danger.
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