High, home & away - Landslide at UN with vote from Pak

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By K.P. NAYAR
  • Published 13.10.10
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New York, Oct. 12: The first comprehensive endorsement of India’s potential rise as a global power by the international community won a legal and diplomatic stamp here today when the country was elected to the UN Security Council by a landslide.

With only four countries voting against India among 191 valid ballots cast in the UN General Assembly, the sweeping endorsement exceeded the expectations of most member states of the world body, including New Delhi’s best friends here.

India scored the highest number of votes on record in any election to the Security Council in the last six years, figures for which were readily available with the General Assembly and Conference Management Department of the UN.

In a surprising twist to the historic vote that augurs well for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s attempts to resolve disputes with Pakistan, Islamabad’s delegation to the General Assembly voted for India.

Never before during the six terms that New Delhi has served on the Security Council since 1950 has Pakistan ever voted for India, according to recollections of India’s past envoys to the UN.

Led by Abdullah Hussain Haroon, its unconventional permanent representative to the world body, the Pakistani delegation showed what is purported to be a secret vote to several delegations on the General Assembly floor as proof against charges in the coming days that it was one of four countries which said no to India’s membership of the Security Council.

In another positive twist that promises to promote harmony in India’s neighbourhood and the smooth working of the Council during India’s tenure, China’s permanent representative to the UN, Li Baodong, was the first to warmly congratulate his Indian counterpart here, Hardeep Singh Puri, on India’s convincing victory.

Puri told The Telegraph that with 98.5 per cent of the General Assembly members voting for India, this was a day to rejoice in the outcome and not dissect, at least for now, the 1.5 per cent of the UN membership that opposed New Delhi.

At Indian embassies and high commissions across the globe, the landslide in New York sparked instant celebrations. B.S. Prakash, India’s ambassador in Brasilia, told this correspondent that there was “expectation in Brazil that the two countries can together demonstrate their strength and capabilities in addressing the global agenda”.

India and Brazil will serve concurrently in the Security Council along with Germany, which was elected today. That means three out of four countries in the Group of Four (G4) which is spearheading the effort here for permanently expanding the Council’s membership will work together at the world’s most visible and influential high table.

South Africa was also elected today. Pretoria shares membership of the Ibsa group with India and Brazil in their joint efforts to chart a new course in global affairs. Brazil and India are constants in another influential group, Bric, short for Brazil, Russia, India and China, all of whom are now in the Security Council.

“By a happy congruence, today’s results will strengthen our partnership in Ibsa, Bric and the G4,” Prakash, who was earlier joint secretary in charge of UN at the ministry of external affairs, predicted. Co-ordinated with imagination and vision, this would have a far-reaching impact on how the global system shapes up in the context of current economic and political uncertainties in the world.

In New Delhi, external affairs minister S.M. Krishna said today’s “resounding endorsement of India’s candidature at the UN serves as a reaffirmation, if any were needed, of the overwhelming support that India enjoys in the international community”.

Krishna had stayed put in New York for 10 days last month and, aided by Puri and foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, went over every minute detail of not how India could win the election, but how big a majority it could marshal in the General Assembly.

The minister personally directed the campaign because the last time India contested for the Security Council and was trounced by Japan in 1996, then external affairs minister I.K. Gujral had egg on his face after he told the H.D. Deve Gowda cabinet that victory was assured in the General Assembly.

Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, who was India’s permanent representative to the UN the last time New Delhi was elected to the Security Council 19 years ago, told The Telegraph from San Francisco that the challenge of India’s Council membership would be to promote national interest and fulfil international obligations at the same time. “A delicate balance would be needed for this,” he pointed out.

Gharekhan said that with almost every UN member voting for India, there would be high expectation from its two-year tenure that New Delhi would follow a “constructive and independent role” in international affairs.