After the recent UN fiasco, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has removed Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi. The development came a day after Prime Minister Khan returned from New York, where he faced widespread criticism for his maiden address to the UN General Assembly last week. The Pakistan Foreign Office gave no reason for Lodhi’s removal in a statement on Monday.
Replacing Maleeha Lodhi, Munir Akram, known for his hard anti-India stand, has been appointed as Pakistan’s new permanent representative to the United Nations. “Ambassador Munir Akram has been appointed as the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York, in place of Dr. Maleeha Lodhi,” the Foreign Office said.
“It has been an honour to serve the country & am grateful for the opportunity to do so for over four years. Representing Pakistan at the world’s most important multilateral forum was a great privilege. I had planned to move on after UNGA following a successful visit by the PM,” Lodhi said in a tweet.
However, Munir Akram’s track record has been quite dubious. Known for his hard anti-India stand, Akram, 74, earlier served as the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN from 2002 to 2008. He was dismissed by the then president Asif Ali Zardari over his disagreement in presenting the case of assassination of Benazir Bhutto to the United Nations. Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, was Zardari’s wife. Akram had also courted controversy after he was accused of domestic violence by his partner Marijana Mihic in December 2002 while serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN. The case was reportedly settled out of the court and he was not charged with the crime due to his diplomatic immunity. The Foreign Office statement said Akram is likely to join soon and would be stationed at the UN’s New York headquarters.
Among other transfers approved by Imran Khan include appointment of Khalil Ahmad Hashmi, presently serving as Director General (UN) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva.
Earlier, Khan delivered his maiden speech at the 74th UN General Debate on Friday and in his almost 50-minute address, devoted half of his time to India and Kashmir, drumming up hysteria over nuclear war.
India exercised its right of reply to the statement made by Khan later on Friday and fend off the allegations made by the Pakistan PM. Strongly hitting back at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s rant at the UN General Assembly, India has said its citizens do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf and “least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate.”
“Every word spoken from the podium of this august Assembly, it is believed, carries the weight of history. Unfortunately, what we heard today from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan was a callous portrayal of the world in binary terms. Us vs Them; Rich vs Poor; North vs South; Developed Vs Developing; Muslims vs Others. A script that fosters divisiveness at the United Nations. Attempts to sharpen differences and stir up hatred, are simply put – ‘hate speech’,” First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Vidisha Maitra had said.