Even as Pakistan plans to lobby for its US envoy Maleeha Lodhi as a woman candidate for the post of United Nations Secretary General, the name of a Pushtun politician from Afghanistan has come up for the first time.
Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister dropped from the government by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, has been mentioned by Afghan expert Rahimullah Yusufzai for the high office in an article in The News.
Sections of the Western media have described Ashraf Ghani as the most interesting candidate of the Asian lot, Yusufzai wrote.
There is no official endorsement for Ghani from the Karzai administration. Projecting a Pushtun fits into Pakistan's view of Afghanistan, which it says is dominated by the non-Pushtun minorities.
India is backing UN Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor for Secretary General in succession to Kofi Annan, whose tenure expires this year-end.
Ghani, who has extensive experience of the UN system, "has good chances of winning crucial US support for his candidature in case other candidates are cancelled out by the big powers", Yusufzai said.
Pointing out that the Bush administration has for long highlighted Afghanistan as a major success of its foreign policy, he said electing an Afghan as the UN secretary general would further augment that argument.
Ghani has lived for long in the US and taught at American universities before becoming involved in Afghanistan's politics in the post-Taliban period. He is a Pushtun belonging to the Ahmadzai Ghalji tribe from the eastern Nangarhar province.
As for Lodhi's candidature, Pakistan is trying to lobby hard with the African nations. Unnamed sources told The News that Pakistan's special envoy Shaukat Umar to the African Union Seventh Summit, currently under way in the Gambian capital of Banjul, has started consultations with the world leaders.