Even at the best of times, he is known to be acerbic and pungent as they come, his anti-India vitriol alarming to the uninitiated. But last month, Pakistan's UN envoy, Munir Akram, directed his bile at his live-in girlfriend and in the process earned a big, black eye for his country. His dreadful conduct took the wind out of Pakistani sails as Islamabad began its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council—and just as it was gearing to deliver some good rhetorical punches there on behalf of the world's Muslims. What could be more un-Islamic than a relationship outside wedlock which under Shariah is punishable by Taliban-style retribution?
Akram's stars plunged precipitously as New York's tabloids screamed details of Pakistan's "diplo-basher" and "abuser". The US State Department asked Islamabad to withdraw his diplomatic immunity so he could face criminal prosecution as a common man. The Pakistani establishment didn't know what hit them, struggling, as they were, with other difficult aspects of their tortuous relationship with Uncle Sam—border shootings and bombs dropping from American planes. They didn't need a new complication from one of their own. The famed corridors of the United Nations were suddenly abuzz with talk of Akram's physical, not verbal, violence.