ISLAMABAD : At the UN, Pakistan condemned continued crimes against civilians in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and Palestine.
Speaking in the Security Council Debate on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that “Worse still , perpetrators who commit such crimes are awarded honors by their military commands.
“And”, she added, “These crimes continue to be perpetrated in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine, two of the oldest disputes on the agenda of this Council”. The Pakistani envoy said that “the Geneva Conventions are violated, respect for human life violated and civilians are used as human shields in occupied territories.”
Ambassador Lodhi pointed out that the impact of armed conflicts on civilians was not limited to collateral damage these days.
“Targeted attacks, sexual violence, forced conscription and indiscriminate killings collectively paint an extremely bleak picture of the human costs of modern day armed conflict”, she said and added that civilians, who should be the primary subject of protection, have become the principal objects of attack.
Pointing out that the protection of civilians, wherever mandated by the Council, is and should be a priority for UN peacekeeping operations, Ambassador Lodhi said that as one of the world’s leading troop contributors to UN Peacekeeping, blue helmets from Pakistan have contributed to many of its success stories in Africa, from Liberia to Sierra Leone.
“Our well-trained and professional peacekeepers have protected civilians, provided them much-needed medical care and rebuilt their lives”, she stressed.
Underscoring the need to find political solutions to disputes, the Pakistani envoy said that the Security Council, as the primary body tasked with maintaining international peace and security, should focus on the root causes of emerging and longstanding conflicts and find inclusive political solutions.
“Inaction by the Council in cases of foreign aggression and occupation produces situations where such crimes breed”, she added.
Ambassador Lodhi urged the 15 member Council to focus on the prevention of the outbreak of armed conflict to achieve the goal of protection of civilians.
“Our collective efforts need to be geared towards that goal. Otherwise, we will be treating only the symptoms and not the cause”, she asserted.
She expressed Pakistan’s concern over growing civilian casualties as a consequence of armed conflict. The international community, she said, is confronted with the challenge of growing civilian casualties, as well as an ever-greater need for humanitarian assistance and protection for people displaced by it.
According to the Secretary General’s report on Protection of Civilians, she said, last year alone, the UN recorded more than 26,000 civilian deaths in just six situations of armed conflict, with 128 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.