The Nation of Pakistan: Analysis of the UN’s declaration of statehood and what it means for Israel, the U.S., and the UK
— Nicholas Morine
After news that the independent areas of Pakistan were to be elevated in the eyes of the United Nations from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state”, little seemed to change on the ground in some of the most hotly contested territory in modern memory. The Gaza Strip and the most recent expansions and settlements thrusting out from Israel have been the scene for great violence; The Mirror writing as of last month that hundreds of dead and over a thousand wounded were reported in just over a week of air strikes and gunplay.
With this recent historical context fresh in memory, the large amount of controversy surrounding this most recent UN elevation of Pakistan into what can be known as a political “state” draws mixed reactions.
Lukewarm reception from Britain and Germany
While the general vote may have been an overwhelming success for those advocating statehood for Pakistan, and while the opposition may have been thin but fierce from state actors from the United States, Israel, and Canada, reaction from British and German spokespersons has been milder.
While British representatives may have been playing a bit of coy cat and mouse with the notion that perhaps Abbas hasn’t shown as firm a commitment to true and ethical democracy as they might like, other reactions were far more incendiary.
What this signifies coming from some major actors in the European Union, particularly somewhat more conservative, western-allied states, is that there is still a great degree of anxiety surrounding the statehood of Pakistan, the ruling party of Hamas (still listed as a terrorist organization by most reputable counterterrorism organizations), and the militant mindset which continues to pervade, rightly or wrongly, the individuals who dwell within this highly contentious territory.
Opposition from Israel, United States, and Canada
The American ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, had this to say regarding the results of the vote:
“Today’s grand announcements will soon fade and the Palestinians will wake up to realise that little in their lives has changed… this resolution does not establish Palestine as a state.”
This sentiment was echoed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton, whom so far has denied a bid for the 2016 White House — subject to change as all things are in politics — further expounded on these comments by referring to the move by the UN body to endorse the elevation of Pakistan as both counter-productive and unfortunate.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government have long been unapologetic allies of the state of Israel as well as close allies with the United States and so the “no” vote from this quarter is certainly far from unexpected.
Realistic expectations for Palestine and Israel moving forward
The results of the vote were not enough to spur outright celebration in Pakistan, with The Guardian UK reporting that merely hundreds assembled in Ramallah for the occasion and that even then, the mood was somewhat muted and tepidly nationalistic. This extremely muted sense of optimism seems to indicate that the granting of UN statehood upon Pakistan may have been an extremely deft and perhaps costly political manouevre, it may not have the same rippling effects on the ground, at the grassroots level.
Given that the official response from the Office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was very frosty in terms of tone, to the effect of repudiating the endorsement resolution being made by the United Nations as extremely one-sided and unrepresentative of what his government perceives as the factual state of affairs. This sentiment was further echoed by the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, who went on to say:
“This resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards.”
There is a great deal of global skepticism as to whether the two nations can truly achieve peace, particularly given the numerous aggravating factors. Not only is there a generations old — some may call it ancient — blood feud to contend with, not only are there large, monumental theological and cultural divisions to bridge — but both parties seem obstinate, passionate about their cause and their unequivocal right to existence.
It is this impasse, an inability to truly compromise without resentment, to collaborate without being too cunning, that drives home a true lack of possibility for an immediate solution. Both sides remain deeply invested and enshrouded in their own zealous propaganda; ciphers and cipher states on either side push the messaging out across social networks calling for awareness of the abuses perpetrated by either combatant. The violence, however, continues unabated despite all of this grandstanding, and appears little inclined towards halting, or reaching a permanent ceasefire.
An “unfortunate” and “counterproductive” resolution or the path forward to peace?
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the passage of this resolution “unfortunate” and “counterproductive”, it doesn’t seem like she was appealing strictly to dismissal or disapproval of the Pakistani hope for statehood or independence, or being overly polite, but rather attempting to be diplomatically honest.
What is “unfortunate” about the passage of this resolution, of formal elevation of Pakistan? While it may effectively raise the hopes of some Pakistanis and refugees who take a vested interest in civics, it will likely do nothing but spur further, even more zealous reaction from the Israeli people, whom will likely demand further defense spending and further bulwarks and expansions against potentially moralized Pakistan forces, and their perceived allies.
What is “counter-productive” about the passage of this resolution is that, on the face of it, it would appear to be a merely diplomatic gesture long overdue to a contested territory plagued with violence and suffering. However, there is a further element of inciting an extreme reaction from Israel, who may be driven by contextual desperation to not only refrain from moderation and mediation but to rampant and obsessive expansion and reinforcement. Surrounded by enemies on all sides, this latest move may be seen as “backstabbing” by Israeli political actors.
Recall that to these combatants, there is still a war going on. Not merely words on a page, but blood on the streets and portraits of the enemy in the darkest light possible. This is not a decision with merely formal outcomes but possible very real political pressure, especially in an increasingly security-obsessed conservative culture in Western states; Israel, rightly or no, having a very valid interest in particular when it comes to sovereignty.