Principled position


Now that Pakistan has taken the principled position of non-alignment, whether it is about international blocs or conflicts, the matter of sticking to it while maintaining friendly relations on all sides is going to test the foreign ministry. Islamabad pointed out, very rightly, that the dozens of European missions that issued a joint ultimatum, of sorts, to Pakistan to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine were being undiplomatic. Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram also correctly said during an interview with Voice of America broadcasting service that Russian concerns about Nato’s expansion right up to its borders were not mentioned in the UN resolution that Pakistan was being influenced to vote in favour of, but chose to abstain.
That makes Islamabad one of the rare voices calling the resolution “in a way, one-sided” and urging a “balanced approach”. But it’s still not going to be enough because this moment demands very active diplomacy and yet the foreign minister felt it was more important for him to lead the charge in PTI’s counter-march in Sindh. German and French embassies, and therefore their governments, were also part of the bunch that demanded a strong statement out of Islamabad, which makes this one of those moments where we need to go the extra mile to make sure our neutrality is not misinterpreted. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has a lot of ground to cover, and the sooner he returns and starts, the better.