The vision about regional peace and shared economic prosperity expounded by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—premised on settlement of all disputes with India including Kashmir through a process of dialogue—in his address to the UN General Assembly is indeed a right and pragmatic prescription for ending the decades old animosity between the two countries. The continued hostility and the resultant arms race between them has, as the Prime Minister rightly pointed out, consumed huge and precious resources of both the countries that could have been spent on their socio-economic development and changing the economic situation of the teeming millions in both the countries.
The changing global and regional realities also dictate a break from the unenviable past by casting away the hate-syndrome, drummed up and sustained by extremist elements on both sides who lose no opportunity to sabotage the peace process whenever it enters the realm of reality. That unfortunately has remained the predictable pattern throughout the last more than six decades.
The recent border skirmishes along the LOC, the attacks on a police station and a military base in Kashmir which stirred the Indian media and the elements hostile to the process of rapprochement in India to vociferously demand suspension of dialogue with Pakistan, are the testimonies to what these elements are up to. But it is very encouraging to note that this time the leadership on both sides has refused to succumb to their tactics and have expressed their resolve to go ahead with the peace efforts.
The realization that burying the hatchet and adopting the path of friendship must form the new narrative in regards to relations between the two countries, seems to have out shown the traditional mind-set. It is hoped that the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan will help in breaking the jinx and giving right direction to the peace process.
While expressing his unswerving determination to make a new beginning in relations with India and settlement of disputes through a bilateral dialogue, the Prime Minister also reminded the world body and the international community of its obligation towards the people of Kashmir for their right to self-determination as enunciated in the UN resolutions. This is a timely reminder to the world community that the legal status of the Kashmir dispute, despite the commitment of both the countries to resolve their disputes through bilateral dialogue, has not changed and it still remains the responsibility of the UN and the international community to have it resolved in case the bilateral arrangement fails to deliver. Article 103 of UN Charter says, “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present charter will prevail” What it means is that the UN resolutions on Kashmir will take precedence over all other international agreements on the same issue. So Pakistan is very much within its right to invoke UN resolutions in case no solution is found through the bilateral arrangement. Article 25 also reiterates the obligatory nature of the UN resolutions. The Security Council under the UN Charter has the power to enforce its decisions and resolutions militarily or by any other means necessary; the powers that it has used during the Korean war in 1950 and in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991.
The Prime Minister made a convincing case for halting drone attacks on Pakistani territory invoking the international law and UN role in this regard; exhaustively took stock of the effects of war on terror on Pakistan and reiterated the resolve of his government to support the reconciliation process in Afghanistan; spelt out the imperatives of dialogue with terrorists and its parameters; outlined the contours of his governing policy and his preference for inclusive government; unraveled his vision for shared regional prosperity; gave a candid appraisal of the international security environment and the inequitable world order and the need for reforms in the UN especially Security Council that guaranteed its truly representative character and dynamic role in the world affairs instead of perpetuating the outdated historical pattern based on privileges..
While expressing Pakistan’s unflinching commitment to the cause of nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and Fissile Material Treaty, he rightly declared to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent necessitated by the security environment in the region. The most important aspect of his discourse in this regard was his demand for access to Civil Nuclear Technology for peaceful purposes to meet the burgeoning energy needs of the country. He made a convincing case for Pakistan’s right to the acquisition of the Civil Nuclear Technology based on its impeccable record as a responsible nuclear state and contribution that it has made for the cause of nuclear non-proliferation. He expressed disapproval for the discriminatory treatment meted out to Pakistan viz-a-viz India who has been given access to the Civilian Nuclear Technology through an agreement between her and the US. His discourse on all the issues covered by him was simply impeccable and he struck right chords with the global and domestic audience.