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Pakistan’s Fake Photo Diplomacy in UNGA 72nd Session

Oct 5, 2017


The United Nations’ 72nd General Assembly was held September 12-25, 2017 at its headquarters in New York City. The core theme of the session was, “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”

According to the International Institute of Sustainable Development’s (IISD) SDG Knowledge Hub, there were 196 statements delivered, 421 meetings and 1,528 bilateral meetings held at the event. The opening session remarks by UN General Secretory António Guterres stressed, “trust could be restored if people worked together.”

Speeches delivered by heads of states and government officials focused on the war of words between North Korea and the United States; the chaotic political and economic situation in Venezuela; climate change; forced migration and its economic effects on countries; conflict zones; and the ongoing wave of terrorism in the world.

Traditional rivals India and Pakistan tried to play the blame game on state terrorism issues.

“We produced scholars, doctors, engineers. What have you [Pakistan] produced? You have produced terrorists,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said during her UNGA speech. Pakistan responded by way of Maleeha Lodhi, the permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, who responded, “India is mother of terrorism in South Asia.”

These statements were in stark contrast to UN Secretary General Guterres’s opening remarks. Worse, the statements from India and Pakistan’s representatives did nothing to highlight the many shared issues and problems the two South East Asian nations face: terrorism, unemployment, water and sanitation problems, poverty and low literacy rates, hate speech, difficulties in the democratic process, civil military relations, foreign policy, and a complex relationship with neighboring countries.

This diplomatic faux pas, committed on the of the world’s most prestigious international forums, raises several questions about the efficacy of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

To make matters worse, the Pakistani delegation used a three-year-old photograph of a Palestinian girl, Rawya Abu, being harassed by soldiers in Gaza as a supposed example of Indian brutalities in the disputed Kashmir region.

The official Twitter account of the Pakistani Mission at the UN retweeted on September 24 a Times of Islamabad tweet featuring Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi’s response to India’s foreign minister, in which Amb. Lodhi showed a photo of a pellet-gun injured woman from Kashmir, stating, “this is the true face of India.”

This diplomatic faux pas, committed on the of the world’s most prestigious international forums, raises several questions about the efficacy of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Is this Pakistan’s diplomacy at the world’s largest forum? Are Pakistani diplomats still living in the Middle Ages and do not want to improve their efficiency in global affairs?

By eschewing fact-checking, Lodhi weakened Pakistan’s position over Kashmir. Nobody might care at all about the Pakistani delegation’s speech, but people do care about a fake photo being showed at UNGA.

Pakistan does not only need to present their Kashmir claim with solid proof, but also needs to do effective diplomacy with all the stakeholders involved in Kashmir and international bodies to solve this regional tension.

Pakistan must work with its allies and neighboring countries through diplomacy on several issues. These types of cheap tactics cannot help but damage the country’s reputation. The nation should train all diplomats on how to deal with crisis situations like this. They also should work on new tools of public diplomacy and should consider all of them according to their potential for successful diplomacy.

Photos (from top to bottom): Photo by John Gillespie I CC BY-SA 2.0, Photo courtesy of @PakistanUN_NY via Twitter


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Narrow minded approach from both sides!

It is irony to consider the fact that the way of representation of both these countries through the world is not only based on rivalry, but they have lost their nerves to what extent thay can go to play blame game against each! So pathetic, and I hope they should avert focus from degrading others, and learn to enjoin to collaborate for better future of people of both countries,and to learn lesson from other nations like European Union!

Lesson from the Past

Dear Mubeen, certainly yes, we need to learn lessons from the other developed nations as well as from our own past experiences. Both nations fought and lost lives, economy and much more and got nothing except remaining poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and many social problems.

Poor Strategy

These are the acts which always set Pakistan to go to back foot. Research and Facts should be presented at this kind of international forum. Foreign policy should be revised and clear.

Diplomats Training

Dear Azhar, foreign policy is clear but the problem with diplomats and their seriousness towards most important issues of state. The must trained diplomats to handle crisis situation at world forums.

valid questions

ﻓﺮﯾﺐ ﮐﮭﺎ ﮨﯽ ﮔﺌﮯ ﺍﮨﻞِ ﺟﺴﺘﺠﻮ ﺁﺧﺮ
ﭼﺮﺍﻍ ﮈﮬﻮﻧﮉﻧﮯ ﺁﺋﮯ ﺗﮭﮯ ﺷﺎﻡ ﻟﮯ ﮐﮯ ﭼﻠﮯ
Being a journalist I am traind to investigates first and then cross check the evidence of story so I am very annoyed on Pakistani diplomate Lodhi who spent her life as a cradible journalist so why she did not eximine facts . 2nd thing both countries are playing blame game but india playing it with effective way of diplomacy and believe on tell a lie until it becomes truth .

Good read!

Good read!
The two countries are completely failed in understanding the fact that the more they will cry against each other at International forums, the international lobbies will take advantage of the fragmented situations in South Asia.
If the two focus on the above said agendas to solve their internal issues the countries wouldn't need to create havoc of blame game.

International Lobbies and Kashmir Issue

Yes, we need to solve our problems internally without the intervention of international bodies, but sometimes we do need but not a way they want on this issue.

Political Science

Its all about the blame game played by both states at International Forum . I don't know why the intelligent Lady Dr. Maleeha Lodhi was failed to present Kashmir issue in an appropriate way . I don't know why she used the fake photo about the stance of Human rights violation of Kashmir . Both states does not show maturities at World level . They are standing at the stage of rivalry . The way of presenting Stance of Kashmir with fake photo diplomacy downs / downed the position of Pakistan . The dire need of Diplomats of Pakistan to be trained and try to evacuate the diplomats from old age and they must present the view of Kashmir efficiently otherwise it loses / lost their standard value of Kashmir dispute .

Fact Checking and Internet Age

Dear Mughiza, thank you for reading my article and respond to the fake photo. Yes, there is a dire need to trained diplomats according to the need of the hour. They must familiar and meet the current standards of diplomacy to compete for rivals at international level. I Asked the same question to Madeeha Lodhi and she responds that she has already apologized for that. I hope after this issue and being a Pakistani and writer I will keep an eye on the scholarship so Pakistani government may be paying attention towards these issues
sooner or later they have to be.



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