Maybe not…

Reports of Pakistan taking the high road and supporting a regional consensus candidate may have been premature. The earlier rumored candidates are apparently off the table, but the government may still field a candidate and, as had been the case with Sadik, one who would be the only female Asian in the race.

Pakistan may field its High Commissioner to Britain Maleeha Lodhi as its candidate for UN secretary general, essentially to counter Indian nominee Shashi Tharoor.

‘As for the names of Prime Minister Aziz and Ambassador Munir Akram (permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN), it was all rumours but the candidature of (UN official) Nafis Sadik was considered,’ the official said, adding that it was dropped because of the ‘age factor’ and the decision been taken in favour of High Commissioner Lodhi.

Some media reports earlier suggested that Pakistan was unlikely to go in for a tit-for-tat nomination on India’s bid for the post of UN secretary-general after it came up with the candidature of Shashi Tharoor as candidate for the secretary-general’s job. However, the official said Pakistan would counter the Indian move and all possible efforts would be made for the success of Lodhi.

As mentioned, this contradicts Dawn‘s report just days ago, citing unnamed officials who claimed President Musharraf was committed to backing a consensus candidate in “the spirit of multilateralism” and that “nominating a Pakistani candidate is not on the cards neither is a change of heart on the issue.”

So for now, the most that can be is either the Pakistani government is divided on whether to challenge Tharoor, or it is dropping names left and right in hopes one of them excites the other missions in New York. 

Update: I forgot to note the “Envoys Meeting” this week in Islamabad, after which a more formal announcement on Pakistan’s decision is expected.

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