The first UN ambassador to congratulate Pakistan's UN envoy, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, on Islamabad's election to a two-year seat on the UN Security Council was none other than India’s acting UN ambassador, Manjiv Singh Puri.
And the first call Haroon received on his cell phone while still receiving congratulations in the UN General Assembly hall on October 21 was from his Indian counterpart Hardeep Singh Puri, who was calling from New Delhi.
It may very well have been India’s decisive vote that sealed Islamabad's election to the UN's highest executive organ, as it secured exactly the required number of votes (129) in the first round.
Despite often being described as archrivals, based upon having fought three wars over the past 60 years over the disputed territory of Kashmir, India and Pakistan have displayed surprising resilience and common sense in the Security Council, where they have served concurrently during three separate mandates in the past (1968, 1977, and 1984).
Pakistan supported India’s bid for a Security Council seat in 2010, and it is assumed that India did the same for Pakistan in its bid for the 2012-13 term. The vote in the General Assembly is secret; no votes of the separate UN member states are made public.
Both India and Pakistan are veteran UN member states and both have served six mandates on the Security Council. India is the No. 1 contributor of military personnel to UN peacekeeping forces, while Pakistan is No. 2. Both states are recognized nuclear powers.
The troubling issue of Kashmir is on the UN Security Council's agenda, even though it has been considered dormant for the past few years. In one positive sign, India announced last week that it intends to lift the security law imposed on its part of Kashmir in 1990. Indian officials say the situation in many areas of Kashmir has become peaceful enough to justify the revocation of the law, which was blamed for widespread human rights abuses and extrajudicial executions.
-- Nikola Krastev