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India, Pak and UN plans

A leading daily in Pakistan has cautioned the Govt against engaging in a contest for the sake of a contest for the UN Secy-General's post.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2006 11:29 IST

The contest for the United Nations Secretary General's post could acquire an India-Pakistan dimension with Islamabad thinking of fielding Nafis Sadik to counter India's Shashi Tharoor.

Tharoor is UN undersecretary general for communications and public information, and Sadik, a former head of the UN Population Fund, is presently serving as Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoy on HIV/AIDS.

The Daily Times newspaper, in an editorial, cautioned the Pakistani government against engaging in a contest for the sake of a contest for the post, and instead advised that Islamabad could "cut a deal" with New Delhi if it thinks it can influence the choice of the new secretary general.

It said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is also "weighing the possibility" of fielding Pakistani envoy at the UN, Munir Akram.

While it may be legitimate for Pakistan to get one of its nationals in the top post at the UN, the newspaper said that it was not necessary that an Indian holding that post would work against Pakistan, as apprehended in some Pakistani quarters.

"If New Delhi really thinks that the withdrawal of Pakistan's candidates could brighten the chances of its own, it (India) may well be amenable to cutting a deal with Pakistan.

Islamabad could make that redound to its advantage within the bilateral normalisation process that is going on between the two sides," it said in the editorial.

The choice of the secretary general would finally depend upon the P5, the five major powers at the UN, and "Pakistan is not a member", it pointed out, emphasising the need to talk to India.

"India definitely stands a better chance, not only because of its strategic partnership with the US but also because others in the club are likely to go along with the US," it said.

"If Islamabad wants to press ahead with the contest, then it should ensure that it is going into the arena fully prepared," it said. The editorial said getting a Pakistani elected "is going to be very hard".

"If Pakistan is really serious about making a bid, Islamabad would need to see what its chances are of winning the office.

If it has placed its candidate simply because India plans to do so then it has made a bad and hasty choice," it cautioned.

Normally, the contest is less about individual nations and more about regional consensus on a candidate.

Additionally, since the decision in this regard is taken in the Security Council and the veto-wielding states are very important - any one of the five can veto a candidate - the candidate has to be approved by all five permanent members, the newspaper said.

"Africa has proved good at developing a regional, indeed a continental consensus on most issues, and then bargaining on that platform."

But the "very fact that both Pakistan and India are vying for the top UN slot means such consensus does not exist in South Asia", it said.