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National

October 2, 2015
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Nawazmade forceful presentation at UNGA

National

October 2, 2015

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WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a very forceful presentation at the UNGA forum on Wednesday, with proposals that must be applauded, but there has been a critical lapse as well in presenting the entire package of Pakistan’s case before the world community.
The speech at the GA was the culminating point of the eight-day visit of the PM with a large-sized entourage and a substantially vocal media team.
But after covering UN sessions for years and in a position to compare the visits and performance of Pakistani leaders, both civil and military, I can state with full confidence that the performance of the Nawaz Sharif team as a whole was much below par.
For instance the PM never interacted with the Pakistani media or the US/international media to forcefully explain his country’s position on many burning issues, especially Pak-India relations and Afghanistan , except after his speech, minutes before flying to London, when he met the Pakistani media and complained that half of the media was resorting to negative reporting.
“He did not want to take on India publicly,” a close team member confided.
What stopped Mr Nawaz Sharif to address the Pakistani community and speak out his mind, for as long as he wanted like General Musharraf did in his UN visits. This was more important at a time when Indian premier Narendra Modi was splashing all around meeting anyone and everyone to sell India and its positions and blasting Pakistan while taking selfies.
Likewise neither the Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz nor anyone else spoke regularly to the media on the sidelines and this critically important field was left for bureaucrats and our top diplomat Dr Maleeha Lodhi who did their best to answer questions but they could not be equated to events with the PM himself which could have an impact on the international media or the scores of top world leaders present in New York.
Similarly why did Mr Nawaz Sharif miss at least three top

world gatherings, including the inauguration of the summit for 2030 that was the key event of this 70th UNGA session. He also missed the dinner of President Obama and the UN Secretary General where his interactions with world leaders would have provided him a chance to explain and expose the Pakistani point of view on key issues.
Everything then was left for the final address to the UN which was, as we all know, prepared not just by Mr Nawaz Sharif but after input and consultation with all the key institutions.
So Mr Sharif was, in a way obliged to read out the speech, whether he liked some parts or some phrases or words or not. Why he left out the issue of Indian secret service RAW’s interference in Pakistan is also a mystery. Where did the so-called “dossier” that the foreign secretary and Dr Maleeha Lodhi were asked about several times disappear?
If the enthusiasm that was embedded in the PM’s speech had been shown all through the previous week with the PM himself and his other team members going out on all available forums and speaking with the same voice and force of moral and political authority, it would have made some impact that would have been visible in the speeches and comments of other leaders at the UN forum, besides the media.
Why was the last day of the UNGA session selected for the PM’s speech is also a big question. Who decided that day and was there an effort made to bring forward the PM speech in the early days of the UN session? Almost all important leaders had already left New York when Mr Sharif got up to speak at the UN.
On Wednesday he was 13th in the list of speakers in the morning session clubbed with Togo, Malta, Fiji, Costa Rica, Croatia, Brunei, Ghana and other minions. The slightly more important leaders included Palestinian leader Mahmood Abbas and PMs of Bangladesh and Turkey. Almost the same number spoke in the afternoon session. It was a crowd where everyone quickly came to the podium, blurted out for 15 minutes and left for home.
So while Mr Sharif made a very assertive speech, it was by and large an effort to put everything on the record and there was a visible lack of enthusiasm which may have shown the world that Pakistan actually meant what the PM said on the last day of his visit to the UN. We could have done much better at the same high price.

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