Pakistan News

Iranian FM’s visa issue

THE UN is supposed to be a global forum where geopolitical adversaries can discuss their differences in front of the comity of nations in order to avoid conflict. However, if one party is denied a hearing, the utility of this multilateral forum becomes questionable, as the UN is supposed to be a democratic institution, not a glorified talk shop like the erstwhile League of Nations.

But in the aftermath of Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani’s assassination by the US, Washington is throwing its weight around by blocking Tehran’s full access to the UN. As reported, the American administration has denied a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, stopping him from attending a Security Council session in New York as there was “not enough time” to process the request.

The US move to deny Iran’s top diplomat access to the UN may violate the ‘headquarters agreement’ Washington signed with the UN when the global body was set up. America has a right to allow or deny access to anyone as far as its own soil is concerned, yet it should not be allowed to use access to the UN as a political tool to punish its rivals.

Previously, severe critics of the US had been allowed to attend UN sessions without major problems arising. For example, much before the Americans dropped its ‘terrorist’ designation for the Palestine Liberation Organisation in the late 1980s, Yasser Arafat made a memorable speech at the UN in 1974. Moreover, at the height of the Cold War, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev used the UN rostrum to deliver fiery speeches condemning their rival capitalist bloc.

And in contrast to the urbane Mr Zarif, Iran’s hard-line former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was allowed to attend UN sessions to denounce his geopolitical rivals. If America’s adversaries are not allowed to come to New York for UN sessions, then the democratic spirit of the body is violated, making it a mere instrument for great power bullying.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020

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