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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 77

Pak may support Jayanatha or Suriakiart for UNSG post.

By M Rama Rao - Reporting from India for Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 24 June ( Pakistan has given up plans to field a candidate against Shashi Tharoor for the post of UN Secretary General.

The decision has some thing to do with the internal power equations as also cross currents in Islamabad and not because of any outside factor.

For the record, however, it is said that Pakistan never intended to go in for a ‘tit-for-tat’ nomination, and that “Pakistan has a national agenda, not an anti-India agenda”.

“Clearly at this point nominating a Pakistani candidate is not on the cards neither is a change of heart on the issue”, a by-lined news item in The Dawn reported on Friday, quoting highly placed sources.

The decision, interestingly enough, coincided with the Washington’s comment that though it has not yet made any decision on who it should support, US holds India's nominee Shashi Tharoor in “greatest regard”.

Various theories are in circulation for the ‘change of heart’ on the part of Pakistan. But one most probable reason is the ‘unwillingness’ of the ‘short-listed’ candidates to jump into the fray.

One of them is Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who has earned the distinction of presenting seven budgets for Pakistan – five as finance minister and two as prime minister. President Musharraf is keen to send him to New York to head the UN but this former Citibank honcho is willing to migrate to the Big Apple. He wants to retain the PM’s post as long as the going is good. Anyhow his term as elected Member of Parliament is till 2012.

Avoidable Embarrassment

Munir Akram, the career diplomat presently at the UN, is also not up for an early departure from his position as Permanent Representative, according to the Dawn report. Akram, who had hit headlines by poking fun at Shashi Tharoor’s nomination, has been given a single point agenda for a while and that is scuttling India’s bid for a permanent berth in the Security Council.

Not much is heard about the third candidates in Pakistan’s short list. He is said to be a low key career diplomat at the foreign office; his USP is a stint in Delhi’s Pakistan mission.

Pakistan obviously feels acutely embarrassed by the turn of events since it enjoyed its usual bit of sabre-rattling vis–a-vis India on the question of UN top job well.

In fact, Akram floated the theory, minutes after the announcement of Shashi Tharoor’s nomination, that India, as an aspirant for Security Council seat should not enter the fray. This nomination and that claim are inconsistent; he argued at a hurriedly convened press conference at the UN and thus offered ‘good fodder’ for thought to many India baiters.

New Strategy

Now Islamabad has taken an interesting line. It says Pakistan’s policy on India is no longer a blindly reactive one. “Pakistan has a national agenda, not an anti-India agenda. We will make our own decisions looking at various factors,” the Dawn quoted some policy makers as saying but did not identify who they are.

Quoting circles close to President Musharraf, the daily says, the President is clear that Pakistan must move in the spirit of multilateralism.

What this means is that Islamabad will work for a consensus candidate and that India’s nominee will not find a place on the consensus loop.

Pakistan may support either Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand Suriakiart Sathirathaith, who is the consensus candidate of ASEAN, or Jayanatha Dhanapala, whom Sri Lanka nominated on Friday. Both have done their home work and have been working seriously to win over China and Japan. Ban Ki-moon, South Korean Foreign Minister is the fourth man in the fray but he is increasingly seen as a lightweight. It is too early to say whether the new Pak strategy will pay diplomatic dividends. Much would depend on the P5, particularly the United States, which is showing an increasing tilt towards New Delhi these days.

The post of UN secretary-general falls vacant on December 31 – Kofi Annan completes his second term on that day.

- Asian Tribune -

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