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Former Pakistani ambassador to the UN to speak on April 15




On Monday, April 6, the United States announced that it will increase its bombing of alleged terrorist enclaves along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, reported the New York Times. While the U.S. considers these missile strikes necessary to eradicate terrorists, many claim that they arouse Pakistani anger toward to the United States and may drive its citizens to support Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

A vocal opponent of these strikes is Ahmad Kamal, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations.

In an interview with WorldFocus, Kamal said that American missile attacks incited resentment toward the U.S., and weakened the Pakistanis’ faith in their government. He blames the bombings for the Taliban’s increased popularity and for a recent peace deal between the government and the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

The Lehigh community will learn more of Kamal’s opinion when he addresses the school on Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium. His lecture is free and open to the public.

His visit may be challenging but will help Lehigh’s community understand Pakistan’s national and international politics, says Jack Lule, the Joseph B. McFadden Distinguished Professor of Journalism and director of the Globalization and Social Change Initiative.

“Especially since 9-11, but even before, Americans have realized that Pakistan is a crucial touchstone for the future of global politics. So many important political dramas are played out there: the fight against terrorism; the U.S. war in Afghanistan; the tense relationship between nations with nuclear weapons; the struggle for democracy; the challenge of insurgency, and others,” he says.

“Ambassador Kamal has been a lead actor in many of these dramas, and Lehigh -- and the United States -- need to hear his views so we have a broader understanding of the many different forces at play in Pakistan.”

Kamal possess knowledge gained from 40 years of diplomat service coupled with the freedom to express his opinions as a retired ambassador. He exercised this freedom while addressing students from Lehigh and several other universities in a videoconference held last November. He tackled students’ questions regarding the U.S. bombings and presented a viewpoint that many Americans would consider surprising if not offensive.

Before retiring in 1999, Kamal served at the United Nations for 10 years, holding some of international body’s highest elective posts. He was the Vice President of the General Assembly, President of the Economic and Social Council, Chairman of the Consultations on the Role of NGOs at the United Nations, Chairman of the Working Group on Informatics, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the U.N. Institute of Training and Research, and a member of the U.N. Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. Prior to his U.N. assignment, he was as ambassador to India, Belgium, France, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Korea.

Kamal will be the eighth in a line of distinguished and sometimes controversial diplomats to give the annual Ambassador Speaker Series. Former speakers have represented South Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syrian, Palestine, Sudan and Germany.

The Ambassador Speaker Series is sponsored by The Fred and Ester Kucklinsky Foundation and is possible because the United Nations recognizes Lehigh University as a non-governmental organization (NGO). Lehigh, was the sixth university in the world to receive this status. Through the Lehigh University-United Nations Partnership, the school offers weekly trips to the UN Headquarters in New York City, access to conferences, meetings with UN diplomats and officials, and opportunities to interact with other NGOs.

--Becky Straw


Posted on Friday, April 10, 2009

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