Pakistan defies West’s pressure on anti-Russia resolution

Despite pressure from the US and its Western allies, Pakistan abstained from voting on a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday night that condemned Russian attempts to annex four regions of Ukraine.

This was the second time in 7 months that Pakistan abstained from the voting against Russia at the UN General Assembly as part of its efforts to maintain neutrality on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The UN adopted the resolution by a large majority, urging the countries not to recognise the four regions of Ukraine, which Russia had claimed, following referenda held late last month, and demanding that Moscow reversed course on its “attempted illegal annexation”.

The vote in the 193-member world body was 143 in favour to five against, with 35 abstentions. India, which voted against Russian demand for secret ballot on the resolution earlier this week, abstained this time, maintaining its previous stance on the conflict.

Read more: India axes rule on IIOJK voting rights after political parties' outcry

The resolution “defending the principles” of the UN Charter, noted that the regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia “are temporarily occupied by Russia as a result of aggression, violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence”.

Defending Pakistan’s move of abstaining from the voting, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram regretted that the co-sponsors of the resolution did not accept proposals for an immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict.

“Pakistan fully supports the resolution’s call for respect for the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states – a principle which also applies to Ukraine, as to other member states. States cannot be torn apart by the use of force,” Akram said.

“These principles must be consistently and universally respected,” he explained. “In the case of the referenda mentioned in the draft resolution, we acknowledge Ukraine’s complex history and the provisions of the Minsk Agreement.”

However, Ambassador Akram said that under the international law, the right to self-determination applied to the peoples, who were under foreign or colonial domination, and those who had not yet exercised the right to self-determination, as in the case of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We look forward to seeing similar concern and condemnation about the attempts by India to formalise illegal annexation of the internationally-recognised disputed territory of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir [IIOJK] in complete violation of international law and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir,” Ambassador Akram added.

Also read: India gives in, Pakistan maintains ‘neutrality’ on Russia

“Moreover, the exercise of the right to self-determination should be conducted in an environment free of military occupation and under impartial auspices, preferably under the supervision of the United Nations.”

Akram said that Pakistan, therefore, endorsed the basic principle reflected in the draft resolution that referenda conducted for peoples and regions which were part of a sovereign state and in an environment which was not free and not under impartial auspices, were ultra vires and legally unacceptable.

“Unfortunately, the draft resolution contains several provisions which go beyond declaring the referenda null and void and includes provisions, which my delegation is unable to endorse,” he said.

The Indian ambassador, Ruchira Kamboj, while explaining India’s abstention on the resolution, also reacted to Ambassador Akram’s statement in which he denounced India’s annexation of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian envoy claimed that Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter of India, and accused Pakistan of involvement in terrorism.

Exercising the right of reply, Pakistan’s delegate Gul Qaiser Sarwani, rejected India’s claim that Jammu and Kashmir was its part, saying the United Nations maps showed Kashmir as a “disputed” territory. “The biggest falsehood that we just heard is that Jammu and Kashmir is a part of India,” Sarwani said.

Under the terms of the UN resolutions, the final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir would be determined by its people through a UN-supervised plebiscite, Sarwani said, pointing out that India had accepted this resolution and was bound to comply with it in accordance with UN Charter’s Article 25.

The Pakistani delegate also rejected India’s accusation of involvement in terrorism, saying aggressors, colonisers and occupiers often attempt to justify their suppression of legitimate struggles for self-determination and freedom by portraying them as “terrorism”.

On its part, the General Assembly automatically took up the resolution for debate, triggered by Russia’s use of the veto in the Security Council over its attempted annexation.

The resolution passed by the General Assembly called on all states, the UN and international organisations not to recognise any of Russia’s annexation claim and demanded immediate reversal of Moscow’s annexation declaration.

The resolution welcomed and expressed “strong support” for the continued efforts by the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and member states, for de-escalating the current situation in search of peace through dialogue, negotiation and mediation.

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