Pakistan seeks early Kashmir settlement; calls for appointment of special UN envoy: PM

APP81-21 NEW YORK: September 21 - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing to the 72nd UN General Assembly’s Session at United Nations Headquarters. APP

By Iftikhar Ali and Shafek Koreshe

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 (APP): Pakistan has called for expeditious steps towards the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir with the appointment of a special envoy to promote a just and peaceful settlement of the festering dispute that has led to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan.

“The international community must act decisively to prevent the situation from a dangerous escalation,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the UN General Assembly, while expressing grave concern over the continuing persecution of the unarmed Kashmiri people, struggling for their right to self-determination.

The prime minister said that India had responded with massive and indiscriminate force to suppress the Kashmiris, shooting indiscriminately at children, women and youth. Hundreds of innocent Kashmiris had been killed or injured, he added.

“Shotgun pellets have blinded and maimed thousands of Kashmiris, including children. These and other brutalities clearly constitute war crimes and violate the Geneva conventions.”

In his wide-ranging address, the prime minister also spoke about Pakistan’s desire for peace in war-torn Afghanistan, its counter-terrorism efforts and sacrifices, the Middle East situation, UN reforms, climate change and the country’s economic stability and consolidation of democracy.

He also made it a point to speak of Islamabad’s desire for peace with its neighbours, saying Pakistan remained open to resuming a comprehensive dialogue with India to address all outstanding issues, especially Kashmir, and discuss measures to maintain peace and security.

However, he added that “this dialogue must be accompanied by an end to India’s campaign of subversion and state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan, including from across our western border.”

Dealing with the situation in Kashmir, the prime minister told high level delegates from around the world that India had deployed nearly 700,000 troops in occupied Kashmir to suppress the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris to exercise their right to self-determination. That was the most intense foreign military occupation in recent history, he said.

He said today the Kashmiri people were waging a heroic and popular struggle to rid themselves of India’s oppressive rule.

“Let me first congratulate Mr Miroslav Lajcakon on his election as the President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly. I am confident that his long experience in public service and international relations will be an asset in successfully guiding this august Assembly to address the imposing challenges of security, development and governance that confront the world today.”

Demanding an international investigation into India’s crimes in Kashmir, he urged the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to send an inquiry commission to occupied Kashmir to verify the nature and extent of India’s human rights violations, secure the punishment of those responsible, and provide justice and relief to the victims.

Pakistan also urged the international community to call on India to: halt pellet gun attacks and other violence against unarmed demonstrators; stop the use of rape as an instrument of state policy; end media blackouts; rescind its draconian emergency laws; and free all Kashmiri political leaders.

The prime minister said India frequently violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir to divert the world’s attention from its brutalities.
He said despite over 600 violations since January this year Pakistan had acted with restraint.

“But if India does venture across the LoC, or acts upon its doctrine of “limited” war against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response,” he warned.

“The international community must act decisively to prevent the situation from a dangerous escalation,” the prime minister said.

“The Kashmir dispute should be resolved justly, peacefully and expeditiously,” he said.

“As India is unwilling to resume the peace process with Pakistan, we call on the Security Council to fulfill its obligation to secure the implementation of its own resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.”

“To this end, the UN Secretary-General should appoint a special envoy on Kashmir. His mandate should flow from the longstanding but unimplemented resolutions of the Security Council.”

Spelling out Pakistan’s stance in clear terms, Prime Minister Abbasi said his country was not prepared to fight the Afghan war on its soil.

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“Nor can we endorse any failed strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other regional countries.”
Pakistan, he said, had suffered and sacrificed much due to its role in the global counter-terrorism campaign.

“It is especially galling for Pakistan to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We are not prepared to be anyone’s scapegoat. Taliban ‘safe havens’ are located not in Pakistan but in the large tracts of territory controlled by the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

He said cross-border attacks did occur, but those were mostly conducted by anti-Pakistan terrorists from the “safe havens” across the border.

“To end all cross-border attacks we ask the Afghan government and the Coalition to support and complement Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to strengthen border controls and monitor all movement across it.”

The prime minister said the people of two countries had suffered the most from four decades of foreign intervention and civil wars in Afghanistan, blighting Pakistan with the flow of extremists and terrorists, guns and drugs and millions of refugees.

“They have set back our economic development by decades. Even today, Pakistan is host to over 3 million Afghan refugees,” he said.

Prime Minister Abbasi said,”No one desires peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.”

However, after 16 years of war in Afghanistan, it was clear that peace would not be restored by the continuing resort to military force.

“Neither Kabul and the Coalition, nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other.”

He said the international community – as expressed in several United Nations resolutions – had concluded that peace could be restored in Afghanistan only through a negotiated settlement.

He said that Pakistan believed that the urgent and realistic goals in Afghanistan should include concerted action to eliminate the presence in Afghanistan of Daesh, Al-Qaeda and their affiliates, including the TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which was recently declared a terrorist organization by the Security Council.

He also suggested promotion of negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban – in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) or any trilateral format – to evolve a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

The two steps, he added, offered the most realistic prospect of restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

Prime Minister Abbasi said that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism credentials could not be questioned. After 9/11 it was Pakistani efforts that enabled the decimation of Al-Qaeda.

He said that Pakistan’s military campaigns had succeeded in clearing our tribal areas of almost all militant groups.

“We took the war to the terrorists. We have paid a heavy price,” Abbasi said and pointed out that over 27,000 Pakistanis, including 6,500 military and law enforcement personnel, had been martyred by the terrorists while 50,000 injured, including 15,000 army personnel, many of whom lost their limbs.

He said that Pakistan had fought the war against terror from its own resources with economic losses estimated at over US$120 billion.

“Yet, we remain committed to fully implementing our National Action Plan against terrorism and extremism,” he reiterated.

Prime Minister Abbasi said defeating terrorist violence was vital to realize its overriding priority of rapid economic and social development.

The prime minister called for addressing the global phenomenon of terrorism comprehensively and identified two major gaps in the global counter-terrorism strategy that have led in a failure to address the issue. “This is an instrument of choice of the agents of chaos and aspiring hegemons,” he added.

He also called for dealing with the root causes of terrorism. Those were not only poverty and ignorance, he said, adding that it also emanated from an extreme response to real
or perceived political and other grievances, including foreign intervention, oppression and injustice.

“Unless such root causes are addressed, it will be difficult to counter the twisted narrative of terrorist groups.”

The prime minister said that Pakistan, confronted by a hostile and increasingly militarized neighbour, had been obliged to maintain the capability for credible deterrence.

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Pakistan, he said, had developed its nuclear weapons only when those were introduced in the region by its neighbour.

“Our strategic assets are vital to deter oft-threatened aggression. They are tightly and effectively controlled, as has been widely acknowledged by experts.”

He said the world community would be well served by enabling Pakistan to join global non-proliferation arrangements, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group on a non-
discriminatory basis.

The prime minister said the renewed East-West tensions might engulf Europe in another Cold War, while peace and prosperity in Asia was threatened by emerging big powers’ friction and rising tensions in South, East and West Asia.

Abbasi said the Middle East was wrecked by war and violence – in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. Although Daesh appeared to have been weakened in Iraq and Syria, terrorist
violence had spread and intensified across the Middle East and Africa and other parts of the world, he added.

“There is no end in sight to the tragedy of Palestine,” he said and pointed out that Israel’s prolonged occupation and expansion of illegal settlements might lead to renewed and wider
violence in the Holy Land.

Rising racism and religious hatred – manifested in xenophobia and Islamophobia – was erecting physical walls and psychological barriers between nations and peoples even as
world became increasingly interdependent.

“The ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas is not just an affront to all norms of humanity but also challenges our collective conscience,” he said.

While the pillars of world order were being eroded, he said the imperative of international cooperation – to address poverty, disease, climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and forced displacement – was intensifying.

The prime minister said that Pakistan welcomed the efforts launched by Secretary General Antonio Guterres to revitalize the United Nations’ capabilities in Peace and Security,
Development and Management.

“We are also committed to reform that transforms the Security Council into a more representative, democratic and accountable body rather than an expanded club of the powerful and the privileged.”

Prime Minister Abbasi said that Pakistan had consistently been one of the world’s top troop contributors to UN peacekeeping.

“We will remain on the front-lines of peacekeeping and continue to offer professional and well-trained personnel to the United Nations, despite our own security challenges,” he
added.

Abbasi termed climate change a new and existential threat to mankind’s future. He said the multiplying extreme climate events were global and indiscriminate. As one of the most vulnerable states to climate change, Pakistan believed that it was in its own collective interest to pursue and realize the goals of the Paris Agreement and build a new
and greener model for growth and development, he added.

He said growth and development were the primary objectives of the developing countries and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals represented the most ambitious development agenda in history.

He said the vision of shared growth – spelt out in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative – offered a solid path to prosperity and a model of South-South
cooperation worthy of emulation.

Prime Minister Abbasi shared with the world body that Pakistan’s economy had recorded a remarkable revival in the past four years. He said the China-Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC) would further contribute to economic upsurge.

He expressed optimism that it would expand exponentially as the Pakistan-China partnership extended beyond energy and transportation to many other sectors.

“Pakistan’s integration into the Eurasian Belt and Road network will provide a firm foundation for Pakistan’s rapid economic development.”

With 207 million youthful population, he said, Pakistan was confident that an economic strategy anchored on rising incomes, consumption and production would propel
it towards greater prosperity.

“To achieve these priority goals for our people, Pakistan seeks to build peace within our country and security around our borders,” he said.

“We seek good relations with all states on the basis of sovereign equality. We will respond positively to all offers of friendship and cooperation,” he remarked.