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Scandal bomb under Pak UN chair

Washington/ New Delhi, Jan. 8: Pakistan’s two-year tenure as a member of the UN Security Council has not begun well.

Instead of being part of momentous discussions on Iraq, North Korea or terrorism with fellow ambassadors and international heavyweights, General Pervez Musharraf’s envoy to the UN has been running around Manhattan in an effort to make peace with his girlfriend of Central European origin, 22 years his junior.

Peace with Marijana Mihic, 35, is crucial for survival as ambassador for Munir Akram, an envoy of otherwise excellent reputation at the UN who was handpicked by Musharraf for the New York job after it became clear last year that Pakistan would join the Security Council on January 1.

The US state department has already asked Pakistan to withdraw Akram’s diplomatic immunity so that New York city prosecutors can bring misdemeanour and assault charges against him following a complaint from Mihic.

The incident has severely embarrassed Pakistan, whose diplomats abroad tout their Islamic credentials, drinking whisky disguised in Coca Cola and sometimes starting even TV appearances with an Islamic prayer to the Almighty.

The episode began in the run up to the partying weeks before Christmas when New York city police received an emergency call on their ‘911’ number at the late hour of 1.36 am.

Mihic told the emergency telephone operators that a man, whom she identified as her husband, had smashed her head into a wall and twisted her arm out of shape. She also told the officers that she had been hit before.

When police cars and their rescue squad arrived at the envoy’s residence in Manhattan, Mihic changed her story and said that Akram was, in fact, her boyfriend.

Her account, narrated to the local media by Lt Brian Burke, a spokesman for the New York city police, was that after an argument with Akram, Mihic had tried to leave the ambassador’s residence.

He prevented her from leaving, seized her and she fell. Burke told the media that police officers at the scene had reported a bruise on Mihic’s head.

Akram was present when police questioned Mihic. He told the officers that he was an ambassador and enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

The state department’s decision to ask Islamabad to withdraw Akram’s diplomatic immunity follows a letter written on Boxing Day by Marjorie Tiven, New York’s commissioner in charge of UN issues, to Patrick Kennedy, a US diplomat at America’s permanent mission to the UN.

It requested withdrawal of Akram’s diplomatic immunity, according to Edward Skyler, spokesman for New York’s mayor.

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