Positive visits by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

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“Thank you to the people of Pakistan for a wonderful visit!” This is what tweeted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres while concluding his historic four-day visit to Pakistan. In his message, he also lauded the rich cultural heritages of Pakistan. Pakistan became a member of UN just after Independence. Since then, Pakistan has been an active member of all of the UN’s specialized agencies, and has also played a pivotal role in peacekeeping missions globally. The contributions of the Pakistani military in ensuring peace in troubled areas including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Congo, are widely recognized by the UN and all stakeholders. According to a report, Pakistan is one of the largest contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping missions across the world. Although high-level officials of various organizations operating under the UN used to visit Pakistan occasionally, the recent visit by the UN secretary general is a rarity. In my view, this visit in the context of the current circumstances reflects the successful vibrant foreign policy of the current government. In addition, our leading role related to the Afghan peace process, the presence of Afghan refugees on our soil, and human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir were also highlighted during this visit. It was a matter of great privilege to interact with the UN secretary general during a meeting held at the Foreign Office. In the presence of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureishi, the meeting was attended by many seasoned parliamentarians from both houses, including Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Fakhar Imam, Hina Rabbani Khar and Anwarul Haq. I was the only non-Muslim parliamentarian on the occasion to represent the patriotic minority community. Being patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council and a non-Muslim parliamentarian, I welcomed the honourable guest with these remarks. “Honorable Sir, you’re the custodian of human rights, and the people of Pakistan are very excited to see you in our beloved country”, I said, while endorsing that the Kashmir issue is the core issue of conflict between Pakistan and India. The Pakistani nation is looking towards the UN secretary general to play his due role for the peaceful solution of the Kashmir conflict, according to UN resolutions. I also presented the situation of minorities in Pakistan and across the border as well. Minorities are an important part of every society, and minorities’ rights is a vital issue throughout the globe. Everywhere, minorities are facing issues. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure the protection of minorities’ rights. I was of the view that there is a dire need for the UN to conduct a comparative analysis of the minorities’ situation in Pakistan and India. The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, despite tensions on the Pak-India border, clearly demonstrates the commitment of the Pakistani government for promoting interfaith harmony and regional peace. The recent visit by the UN secretary general to Pakistan was focused on the Afghanistan issue, and it is a very good sign that he has acknowledged Pakistan’s hospitality towards Afghan refugees. During the meeting, various issues such as the anti-polio drive and climate change also came under discussion. Today, when India refuses the implementation of its own resolution presented in the UN about the Kashmir issue, the people of Pakistan believe that the UN secretary-general is in a better position to resolve the conflict peacefully. During his visit, the honourable guest has also witnessed the unity and solidarity shown by all segments of society on the issue. The case of Pakistan was presented in such a brilliant way that India had to issue a press release, even on a Sunday. According to the UN secretary-general, the improved security situation of Pakistan is absolutely remarkable. Although his remarks were related to our internal law and order situation, they took me back a few years. There was a time when our leadership was unable to get an appointment to meet world leaders at international forums. However, today the successful visits of various rulers belonging to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, and most recently the UN Secretary General reflect that international community is recognizing the significance of Pakistan at international level. The Foreign Office has no doubt struggled tirelessly to achieve this milestone just in a short period of one and a half year. The UN secretary-general expressed positive remarks about Pakistan and the Pakistani nation. Such visits, in my views, will have a significant impact on a long-term basis. All those world leaders who are returning from Pakistan with pleasant memories will obviously project the real picture of our country, and thus, be supportive of our stance. It would be a remarkable contribution by the UN secretary-general to serve humanity if he succeeds to resolve the Kashmir conflict during his tenure.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani

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