Pakistan not in favour of arms race in South Asia: envoy


Ambassador Lodhi meets new UN chief Antonio Guterres


In an obvious reference to India, Pakistan has voiced concern over the growing transfers of conventional armaments in volatile regions, saying it has every potential of fuelling instability and jeopardising the delicate regional balance.

“South Asia is a sensitive region where one state’s military spending grossly and vastly out-shadows all others,” the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Tehmina Janjua told the General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee on Thursday.

“We remain concerned over the growing transfers of conventional armaments, especially in volatile regions that are inconsistent with the imperatives of maintaining peace, security and stability,” she said in a thematic debate on conventional weapons.

“The policy of dual standards towards South Asia — based on narrow strategic, political and commercial considerations — must be eschewed,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Pakistan, she said, was committed to the establishment of strategic stability in South Asia, which includes an element of conventional force balance. “It [Pakistan] neither wants nor is it engaged in an arms race in the region,” she said.

In her remarks, ambassador Janjua said efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons must not give way to an unworkable imbalance of conventional weapons similar to those which had triggered two world wars.  Spending on conventional arms had surpassed $1.7 trillion, she said, adding that the total budget of the United Nations was around 3 per cent of world military expenditures, and that 33 times more money was being spent on fuelling and exacerbating conflicts than on preventing them.

Results would be few and far between if the issue of conventional weapons was not addressed in a comprehensive manner, the Pakistani envoy said.

“The utility of a partial approach that separates motivations for arms production from the controls of their trade and transfers will be limited at best. As a result, these weapons will continue to fuel conflicts, destabilise states and societies, inflicting enormous pain and suffering to humanity.”

Pakistan, she said, has developed the necessary legislative, regulatory, enforcement and institutional mechanisms to address the range of issues relating to conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons. “We are taking additional measures to strengthen the enforcement regime, which covers imports and licensing,” she added.

Pakistan considers Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) as a first step towards regulating trade and transfer of conventional weapons and note its entry into force, she said. “Even as we continue our national review of the treaty, we believe that ATT’s success, effectiveness and universality will be assessed on its non-discriminatory implementation, in particular, its criteria and strict adherence by its state parties to the treaty principles.”

The success of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), she said, lies in the delicate balance it seeks to maintain by minimising human suffering without sacrificing the legitimate security interests of states.

Ambassador Janjua said Pakistan shares the concerns about the acquisition and use by non-state actors and terrorists of small arms and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


Ambassador Lodhi meets new UN chief Antonio Guterres, briefs him on situation in South Asia


Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, briefed UN Secretary-General-designate Antonio Guterres on the situation in South Asia and Afghanistan when she called on him on Wednesday, according to informed sources.

In her first meeting with Guterres after the General Assembly unanimously elected him as the new UN chief on October 13, Ambassador Lodhi also discussed with him both the opportunities and challenges confronting the world, the sources said, without elaborating.

At the outset, the Pakistani envoy conveyed congratulations to the secretary-general-designate on behalf of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.

On his part, Guterres expressed his deep admiration for Pakistan’s resilience, not just in hosting refugees, but also in confronting the challenges it had faced over the years. He fondly recalled his various visits to Pakistan and the excellent cooperation that he had received as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a post he held for 10 years.

As UNHCR, Guterres, who will formally take over as UN secretary-general on January 1, 2017,  has visited Pakistan six times.

Guterres, 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002. He entered politics in 1976 in Portugal’s first democratic election after five decades of dictatorship.

He became the leader of the Socialist party in 1992 and was elected prime minister in 1995.

After his appointment by the General Assembly on October 13, Guterres pledged to act as an “honest broker” and said he would take a humble approach in trying to deal with global issues, with human dignity at the core of his work.



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