An air of nervous excitement pervaded HRC1 on Wednesday morning. Delegates who had spent months laboring in the preparation of their resolutions eagerly anticipated the opportunity to voice their opinions. Many had flown thousands of miles and paid thousands of dollars for this unique opportunity. “It was a ten hour flight from China,” said the delegate of Slovakia. “And I have been working on my resolution on Baluchistan for about a month.”
Baluchistan is contained largely in a sparsely populated region of Pakistan. The inhabitants of this region compose a unique ethnic group, which was absorbed into Pakistan in 1947. Strong tensions generated by cultural differences exist between the Pakistani government and the inhabitants of Baluchistan.
The microphone in HRC1 screeched to life. The chairs introduced Lisa Martin, the director of THIMUN Qatar, to make an unfortunate announcement. The Pakistani government viewed debate about the issue of Baluchistan as “a breach of national sovereignty,” and “hostile.”
“This is the one thing you have come prepared for,” she continued. “You’ve spent a lot of time on and its not fair to put you in a situation where you can’t read your prepared speech, but for the rest of the committee this issue will not be debated.”
Despite Ms. Martin’s assurances that THIMUN was purely an academic exercise and an opportunity for international dialogue, those requesting the removal of the Baluchistan issue refused to budge. “I’ve done MUN for almost twenty-five years and I’ve never seen a situation like this, I hope I never have to see another one,” said Martin sadly. However, those most affected by this shocking turn of events are the delegates who went to lengths to bring this contentious issue to light. “It’s absurd,” said one delegate. This form of censorship violates the spirit of THIMUN, which is supposedly a forum for free speech and collaboration. Another delegate who researched Baluchistan explained that refusal to allow discussion on controversial problems prevents these problems from being solved. “The fact that [Pakistani government officials] aren’t allowing us to debate this issue means that they’re hiding something.”
The UN was designed to solve global problems larger than any individual or country. The UN provides a global force of mediation, transcending corruption in any individual government to provide more universal source of protection. Model UN is supposed to reflect this ideal in its operation, contending with difficult problems to prepare future generations for finding solutions. When the UN becomes censored, permitted to discuss only those issues that are not controversial or accusatory, it ceases to serve its purpose as a promoter of justice.
Today, it seems that we are not ready to address the injustices facing Baluchistan. But that doesn’t mean that these issues don’t matter. As Ms. Martin said, “what you say and do in this room matters greatly to a lot of people.” That’s why they’re pulling the issue: because it matters; because if we debate it, we could raise unwanted awareness; because Pakistan believes that we can make a difference.
By: Joshua Kazdan