The United Nations General Assembly is in session in New York. The august body is meeting for the 58th time to discuss a host of subjects that, apart from some permanent issues, include some new important issues born after the United States emerged as the only super-power in the world.
The Iraq war, the Afghan crisis, and the problem of Palestine are likely to dominate the deliberations and discussions of this world body. Besides these issues, the Kashmir conflict too is finding an echo in this international forum. In fact, ever since India and Pakistan became members of the United Nations, Kashmir has been one of the issues that has been debated time and again in the General Assembly.
The issue has been recognized as the most potent threat to peace in the South-Asian region in particular and the world in general due to the nuclearisation of the region. The thick clouds of war have all along been hovering over this impoverished part of the world and, in fact, it has been but for the timely mediation of some important countries that the armies of India and Pakistan did not collide.
True, that the inherent weaknesses of the United Nations in not being equipped to force member nations to respect its charter has made it unable to make the contesting parties, that is India and Pakistan, respect any of the sixteen resolutions the august body has passed on Kashmir. But there can be no denying that at many an important juncture, it has been successful in building moral pressure on the two countries and thus preventing them from going to war. And it was because of the member countries of the United Nations that a thaw had set in between India and Pakistan after a tense stand-off of nearly two years. Both India and Pakistan realize that the march for development in the two countries has been badly hampered because of the continuing no-war no-peace situation in the region.
Petty politics has prevented the two nations – teeming with millions of people without food and shelter – from writing an essay in peace and harmony. Because of his gestures of peace, Prime Minister Atal Behrai Vajpayee had many believing that he would emerge as a statesman who would go down in history as a harbinger of peace for the 1.5 billion people of South Asia. Many saw in him shades of Charles de Gaulle of France who, in spite of tough opposition from his cabinet and bureaucrats on his Algerian policy, displayed extraordinary largeness of heart, magnanimity and statesmanship by standing up and thus putting an end to one of the bloodiest conflicts in north Africa involving France.
Prime Minister Vajpayee should prove his detractors wrong by brushing aside their criticism and move ahead to bring a lasting peace to the region. He must recognize the role that history has cast for him.