Prime Minister’s Special Envoys, A Good Idea?

Prime Minister’s Special Envoys, A Good Idea?

There are leaders and then there are exceptional leaders. Recently, in Pakistan unfortunately, we have had a huge crop of leaders, be it self-made or general-made (wink) but what we lack is an exceptional leader to lead this vibrant and yes, somewhat challenging country. As far as one may see, there isn’t one coming any time soon.

So why we need an exceptional leader and not just a leader is because a leader only gets ideas whereas an exceptional leader stands behind that idea and goes out of his or her way to see its implementation.

Recently, after the Kashmir uprising, our honorable Prime Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif had an amazing idea, to raise the issue of Kashmir by sending special envoys to all the major capitals of the world. One may say it was a brilliant stroke as both the local and international media picked it up; countries welcomed them and listened to them.

The special envoy delegation for the US comprised of Senator Mushahid Hussain and Dr. Shazra Mansab. The trip has been massively covered by both local and international media, so much so that the Times of India has been writing several stories on it. Unfortunately, though, what is lacking is a set theme of the visit. The envoys have been poorly briefed and their own personal research has been based solely on what our newspapers publish.

While on business in the US, I had the opportunity to attend an event where the Pakistani envoy to US was invited. Dr. Shazra Mansab gave a detailed outline of the Indian army’s atrocities on the Kashmiri people. She was very graphic in her delivery and made sure to explain to the audience that the Indian army was using “pellet guns” to “hurt poor Kashmiri people including children”. She further explained that these guns were “usually used for deer hunting in the region”. Interestingly, she went on to explain the composition of the bullets stating that, “each cartridge has over 100 metallic shrapnel which when fired are sprayed and they hurt very bad…”.

Later on she explained that her reason to travel to the US was to ensure that the “world knows about such horrible atrocities going on in Kashmir at the behest of Indian army”. Towards the end she concluded, “I think we have stirred up Washington. I think that was the purpose that, look here it is, a popular, indigenous and widespread uprising (in Kashmir). Pakistan has nothing to do with it. India is trying to put the pressure and raise the temperature which is detrimental to the peace, security and stability in South Asia, because it is a nuclear flash point. We do not want that. No red line should be crossed.” An elected lawmaker of the country, selected to visit the biggest player in international and geopolitical world, was unable to formulate a decent ending that might have had a thought provoking or lasting impression.

On the other hand, the more seasoned and veteran, Senator Mushaid Hussain preferred to stick to the basics by just issuing political statements rather than fulfilling the theme of the whole “sending of envoys mission”. He kept on repeating the age old mantra of Kashmir being part of Pakistan and was affixed on releasing headline friendly snippets like, “Going to war is not an option at all. The reason is both the countries need economic development, have to work for the welfare of the people,” or him going off topic and raising the issue of India’s PM referencing Balochistan, warning that if he continued to do so, Pakistan would respond by “talking of Khalistan, Nagaland, Tripura, Assam, Sikkim or the Maoist insurgency. We do not want to do that because that is interference in the internal affairs of a neighboring country. You are changing the rules of the game. It becomes tit for tat,” he added.

As parliamentarians and lawmakers of the country, their focus should have been on the policy and legal aspects of the issue while highlighting the domestic and international legal violations such as the fact that there are currently over 18 UNSC Resolutions on the issue, along with the Shimla Agreement and UN Charter’s Article 103, under which it is the legal obligation of member states to enforce such resolutions. And that the “pellet guns with 100 shrapnel” is not just an issue of human rights violation, rather an issue of the violation of international humanitarian law, as under the Fourth Geneva Convention the acts of Indian army in Kashmir are tantamount to war crimes. They failed to address that under all the legal and political definitions, India is an occupying force in Kashmir to which even its own Constitution under Article 370 gives a special status.

The concept of sending special envoys to major capitals especially in the current age of “law-fare” and “legal diplomacy” is a brilliant stroke, however its poor execution failed to gain the expected momentum as the international capitals were unmoved.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

Faizan Warraich

Author: Faizan Warraich

The writer is a practising International Commercial lawyer based in Islamabad.