Thursday, December 27, 2007
UN agrees on words of condemnation
--Richard Roth, Senior UN Correspondent

The final week of the year is usually quiet at the United Nations. But my 14 years covering the place has seen several world crises which have prompted emergency meetings.

Today it's Pakistan. I always listen closely as the President of the Security Council for the month of December wishes reporters a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year around December 18.

Then I tell the various ambassadors to be careful, don't jinx the world. It doesn't take long for tsunamis, Iraq crises, and nuclear showdowns to erupt.

Pakistan is not a major item on the Security Council agenda because so far trouble hasn't spread across borders.

But because terrorism is a big issue in the country and certainly also for the US, and others, it's a chance to condemn the assassination of Mrs. Bhutto and tell the 192 UN member countries to cooperate on terror.

By UN custom, the meeting of the UN Security Council was called quite rapidly. Ambassadors walked into a closed door meeting at noon, the U.S, France, and Italy led the call for the Council to issue a statement.

But even a statement following a violent act is not easy for 15 countries to quickly settle on. It can take one word to make diplomats squabble for hours, even days.

An ambassador will leave the room and telephone a higher ranking foreign affairs official in a world capital for instructions and to update on what another nation is demanding.

Sure enough, 90 minutes in, Pakistan, not on the Council, sent word it was not pleased with a few of the words.

A diplomat said Pakistan objected to condemning the act "in the strongest terms." The countries of the UN are very touchy with how the powerful Security Council responds to any action in its own borders.

As of 1:50 pm, ambassadors were reviewing the third draft. All 15 countries on the panel must agree before it becomes official.

US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters "I knew Benazir Bhutto quite well. She is a friend of mine." The former US Ambassador to Afghanistan said "it's a great tragedy. She stood for moderation, for the rule of law, for democracy in her country."

He appeared shaken. Khalizad has seen his share of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was the most emotional I have seen him since he took up the UN post.

The Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, current President of the Security Council said the Council must underline that the assassination is unacceptable.

The Security Council did come together and issue a statement this afteroon. Despite Pakistan's protest, it condemned in the "strongest possible terms the terrorist suicide attack by extremists."

It paid tribute to the late Mrs. Bhutto. The Council called on Pakistanis to exercise restraint and maintain stability in the country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon echoed the sentiments of the Council saying he was shocked and outraged by the assassination. He termed it a very difficult situation for Pakistan.
Posted By CNN: 3:27 PM ET
  11 Comments
Perhaps someday all our nations will unite in peace and tragedies such as this will become a thing of the past.
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 3:50 PM ET
Dear Richard, words don't come easily at a time like this. It will take a while for the world to recover from the shocking news of Mrs. Bhutto's death. As difficult as the days ahead may be, let's hope her death paves the way for peace in Pakistan and the world, and that she did not die in vain.

Thank you for your post,

Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Blogger Lilibeth : 4:04 PM ET
How can this contemptible act NOT be condemned in "the strongest possible terms"? Pakistan's political band should embrace a vigorous denunciation of Bhutto's assassination specifically and of the extremist campaign of violence in general. Whoever wants to mince words, minimize the impact of this wave of bloodshed, should be publicly branded an extremist sympathizer. A friend to fanatics. It is a continuing shame that Islam in general continues to squelch voices of dissent due to a lack of confidence in its ideals. If Muslims truly believed in the wisdom of their belief system, they would fight conflicting voices within the marketplace of ideas, not from behind the barrel of a gun or the trigger of a bomb.
Posted By Anonymous Jared K : 5:12 PM ET
Unfortunately, what Mrs. Bhutto feared the most came to pass. The Pakistani government did not do enough to protect her - even after the attempt in October. I sincerely hope the UN condemns this in the strongest possible terms and she did not die in vain.
Posted By Anonymous justcat : 5:18 PM ET
Ms Bhutto's death is truly an international tragedy. However, if she was so concerned about her security, Wh7y was she standing in an open sunroof?
Posted By Blogger Theresa : 6:34 PM ET
Ms. Bhutto's death shows that the evil extremists do fear people that stand up and side with those countries that have the will to fight terrorism to its end. All individuals involved with this terrorist attack should punished to the fullest extent of Pakistani law.
Posted By Anonymous Mike from CT : 7:09 PM ET
This is terrible. Although I am native Pakistani and never liked Bhutto's as a good leader due to her corrupt government(s) in the past, killing in the name of religion is becoming an epidemic. The nations around the world should take action against it, and work together to stop terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Anwar Haroon, Katy, TX : 7:25 PM ET
I am from neighbor India- living in USA- I grieve for the family and the country- She could have a lot of faults- but death is not the answer- She suffereed enough losing her dad and brothers- people can change and I strongly believe in it- if she had problems when she governed when young, I thought she has matured over years- On behalf of my friends and my family from India- to the Pakistan citizens-please accept our condelences- our heart goes out to the family of Mrs. Bhutto- and we will always admire her- kripa
Posted By Blogger kripakaran puvalai : 8:15 PM ET
Today is a sad day for the world. Once again evil has snatched the possibility of peace in the future from the hands of our children. Will we ever love our fellow man? How much blood must be spilled before humans finally realize that we can keep killing and killing but in the end it will be a very lonley place? King of nothing comes to mind.
Posted By Blogger Steve Black (tageeboy) : 8:16 PM ET
Ms. Bhutto must have been an extremely large thorn in the side of whatever faction or factions killed her because by killing her they have elevated her in the eyes of her supporters to martyr. While it is a tragedy for her supporters in Pakistan that she has died, her death may continue to help their cause for a democratic Pakistan. Bhutto was an extremely intelligent, well spoken, brave individual - her loss is a tragedy for us all.

Merrill
Knoxville TN
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 8:20 PM ET
While I applaude the UN for their words of condemnation and understand what a delicate thing politics is in this world, I am also saddened that a decision to condemn anyone for an assassination had to be debated and approved. All assasinations should be condemned, everywhere.
Posted By Anonymous dhhawkinson : 8:21 PM ET
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