NEW YORK - Malala Yousafzai is in New York, but in accordance with the terms of her book deal, is contractually restricted from speaking to press without the permission of her public relations agency. She is being guided at the UNGA by Gordon Brown, and she was present at his meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister. Malala’s PR aside, it seems clear that the Pakistanis have neither helped, nor hindered her publicity. Her meeting with PM Sharif was underway at the time of filing.
There has been some talk about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif missing a reception by President Obama, for “reasons unknown”. Of course, there cannot be a more important engagement than this, especially since Pakistan tried and failed to get time for a bilateral visit with Mr Obama, in Washington. Even Mrs Kulsoom Nawaz made it to Harlem to shake hands with Michelle Obama. So, what happened? Why didn’t he go? The local press officers were baffled themselves, and unable to supply an answer. “This is the Prime Minister’s decision; too high up for us to know.” While mulling over what could possibly have inspired Mr Sharif to reject the invitation, some simple logistical calibration supplied the answer, which had thus far evaded the press officers. The Prime Minister’s plane was landing at JFK on Monday evening, while the reception was underway. Unfortunately, the confusion has been cleared up, and an interesting report sacrificed to reality in the process.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be attending a structured, formal bilateral with the US President at the same time as Mr Sharif is addressing the UNGA on September 27. It is anticipated with some satisfaction that a protest by Kashmiris will occur outside the UNGA on the day of the Indian Prime Minister’s address to the United Nations, on September 28. There may also be one outside the White House the day of the bilateral meeting in DC.
At a briefing, US Special Representative to Afghanistan, Ambassador Dobbins, referred to the now confirmed Manmohan-Nawaz meeting. “In particular, this will be good for Afghanistan. Pakistan, India competition is not the only reason Afghanistan has seen conflict, but it’s one of them.”
The intrepid Pakistani press, meanwhile, sequestered at a comfortable distance in a press room at the Roosevelt Hotel, scrounges for snippets of information from local officers, over endless cups of tea. Packets of “Everyday” whitener have been especially procured from Jackson Heights to make the atmosphere more amenable for journalistic endeavour. But, even the most basic confirmations are hard to come by; such as the exact time for the PM’s Millennium Development Goals speech. With the result, that a few venerable journalists spent the entire morning at the UN plaza, waiting for the PM to make his address, before eventually leaving for another briefing. The PM’s address was eventually read via the press release circulated by email.