The Pakistan government has removed Maleeha Lodhi and appointed Munir Akram as its permanent representative to the United Nations. He was once dismissed from the post by former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari over a disagreement, however, he is also known for a controversy in 2002 when he was accused of domestic violence by his then girlfriend in the US.
While serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram courted controversy after being accused of domestic violence by his partner, Marijana Mihic, in December 2002. According to a New York Times report, the case was settled out of the court and he was not charged with the crime due to his diplomatic immunity.
On Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement that Munir Akram would be stationed at the UN’s New York headquarters. Akram is an experienced hand who served as the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN from 2002 to 2008.
THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE
During the Christmas and New Year celebrations in 2002, the New York City Police received a distress call from a woman crying about being beaten up by her “husband”. The woman told a 911 operator that her head was smashed on the wall by her “husband”, states a NYT report from 2003.
The 911 operator noted that the woman also said that the accused man had diplomatic immunity.
When police officials arrived at Munir Akram’s Manhattan residence to attend to the emergency call, the woman said he was her boyfriend and that an argument broke out between the two and she tried to leave when he attacked her.
Munir Akram was present at the house when the police arrived and he presented himself as an ambassador of Pakistan. The police failed to take any action against him over his diplomatic immunity from being booked in local crimes.
WHO IS MUNIR AKRAM
Munir Akram is a student of Political Science with a Masters from Karachi University. In 1968, he entered the public services and joined the Pakistan Foreign Service a year later. His first posting was in the UN as second secretary. After working across several countries, in 1995 he became the permanent representative of Pakistan at the Geneva office of UN.
In 2003, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf appointed Munir Akram as a permanent representative at the UN office in New York.
In 2003 Pakistan became a member of the UN Security Council for two years and Munir was expected to play a crucial diplomatic role when he instead got into the domestic violence controversy. Pakistan expected him to take up the crises in Iraq and North Korea at the UN.
When Asif Ali Zardari became the President of Pakistan, he removed Munir Akram from the UN. Asif Ali Zardari wanted to Munir Akram to take up the case of Benazir Bhutto’s murder with the UN but Munir Akram did not oblige, after which he was dismissed from the UN post.
As a diplomat, Munir Akram’s image is that of a hardliner who speaks aggressively on Kashmir. In an article after the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Munir Akram had said that now organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen should start fighting in Kashmir instead of the Hurriyat.