Middle East. 1971.

By Claire Fraise

Delegates in Islamabad have a crisis on their hands. Set in the midst of the 1971 unrest in East Pakistan, the committee is starkly split between those in favor of the separation of East and West Pakistan.

“The two regions have vastly different languages and cultures,” said the delegate representing Colonel M.A.G. Osmani, a retired soldier and member of the Awami League. “The country is operating under martial law. There is an election coming up; I am in support of East Pakistan’s independence.”

Islamabad Reconciliation is a crisis committee. Tasked with discussing only one topic, its delegates receive “updates” from the field every 15-20 minutes. They include notifications of deployment of troops, occurrences of rebel unrest, press releases co-signed by Pakistan’s Prime Minister and India’s head minister of foreign affairs, and new developments from the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The historical context of the delegates’ discussions makes every decision even more important. In real life, West Pakistan mercilessly suppressed the movement for independence in East Pakistan. A war ensued. In 1971, the same year in which this Model UN committee was established, India aided the military campaign of the rebels. The war ended with East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh, and West Pakistan becoming Pakistan. 

Today, delegates are debating issues such as: “what situations merit war,” “what makes a country independent,” “what are the best ways to effectively quell rebel activity,” and “how to effectively strike compromise, and how important is it, when there are such high stakes.”

A tangible solution has yet to be agreed upon.