The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned the terrorist attack on the Karachi Stock Exchange in a move initiated by China, but it is understood to have slow-walked the process enough to also deliver Pakistan its quiet but clear disapproval of its continued support for terrorism.
“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack that took place in Karachi, Pakistan, on 29 June 2020, which resulted in several people killed,” it said in a statement, more than 24 hours after the first draft was circulated on Tuesday.
Written by China, an all-weather friend and benefactor of Pakistan, the statement was expected to be timed for release with Pakistan government’s efforts to blame the attack on India, without explicitly saying so in the statement, which would have never passed the “crazy test” of the full council.
“Our security forces fought and thwarted a huge tragedy which was planned by our neighbouring country India,” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan told the country’s National Assembly. He offered no evidence, because he did not have any and he, probably, believed he did not need any to just smear India.
Shortly after or before in New York city, where the UN is headquartered, China circulated a draft of a press statement for the UN Security Council to issue condemning the terrorist attack in Karachi. Any member of the Security Council can start this process and in case of China it was for all the obvious reasons.
UN secretary general Antonio Gueterres had already condemned the attack the same day on Monday. UN diplomats closely associated with the process said the purpose of the Chinese draft statement could have been, one, to provide Pakistan an opportunity to portray itself as a victim of terrorism and not the leading state-sponsor of terrorism it was. And, two, to allow it the perverse opportunity to slur India, timed with claims made in Islamabad.
But it did not quite work out that way. Germany, which holds the rotational presidency of the council for July, put up the first obstacle. It used the period until 4:00 pm (US eastern time, 1:30 am in India), set aside as a part of the practice and tradition at the UN body for member countries to read the draft, consider their position and dissent, it they wanted, “breaking the silence”.
Germany asked for, and got, an extension until 10:00 am Wednesday (US eastern, 7:30 pm India), saying it needed to “consult the capital”, for consultations with the home government in UN parlance. It can be genuinely a consultation or a ruse to slow down the process. It was the latter in this instance, according to UN diplomats who followed the process closely, because Germany did not return with objections.
Germany simply passed on the baton of disapproval to the United States, which sought an extension, and got one till 1:00 pm (US eastern, 10:30 pm India).
America’s reasons could not be ascertained immediately but UN diplomats wondered if it was a subtle way for the Americans to convey their displeasure with the Pakistani prime minister for his remarks recently that the US “martyred” Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader who was killed by US navy SEALs in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011.
Khan’s gratuitous remarks on bin Laden could not have been more badly timed. “I won’t be surprised if that was indeed a consideration for the Americans,” said a diplomat, pointing to the fact that New York was Ground Zero of the 9/11 attacks masterminded by bin Laden.
The US mission just let the 1:00 pm deadline lapse.
The UNSC statement was released shortly, condemning the Karachi attack. But it was perfunctory, styled to fit a template.
“It did not even specify the number of victims,” said the UN diplomat cited above. Eight people died in the attack, including all the four terrorists. But the UNSC report said, perhaps suspicious of Pakistan’s account of the attack, “several people killed”