Pakistan urges UN to come to aid of children suffering in occupied Kashmir

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 09 (APP):Pakistan on Tuesday drew attention to the “grim reality” facing children in Indian occupied Kashmir, which is under a repressive lockdown for over two months now, and fervently called on the world community and the UNICEF, the UN’s children agency, to come to their aid.

“It is time for the international community to act, by demanding that India fulfill its obligations including to protect and safeguard children, in the occupied territory,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural matters.

Speaking in a debate on the promotion and protection of the rights of children, the Pakistan envoy said it was also time for UNICEF to speak up and live up to its responsibility and come to the aid of children who are incarcerated or suffer in curfew-bound occupied Kashmir.

“After all,” she added, “when the lives and rights of children are at stake, there must be no silent witnesses; silence means complicity.”

In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi said children were worst affected by armed conflicts, foreign occupation, and humanitarian crises.

“Nowhere is this grim reality more stark than in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” she said, adding since India’s “illegal” annexation of occupied Kashmir on Aug. 5, a large number of children have been picked up in night-time raids.

“Two months on, harrowing and spine-chilling stories abound of widespread torture and arbitrary arrests; of how thousands including children have been picked up from their homes by occupation forces in the still of the night – taken away without any trace.,” Ambassador Lodhi said, and quoted one mother from Baramulla as saying, “Nights fill us with dread”.

“Innocent Kashmiri children and youth, like 16 year old Asrar Khan, who succumbed to pellet gun injuries and tear gas shells last month; or 18 month old Hiba Jan, blinded by a pellet gun in 2018, are victims of an illegal occupation,” she said. “These tell unremitting tales of an occupation force, which has no regard for the norms of international law or respect for the rights of children.”

“For Kashmiri people,” Ambassador Lodhi said, “life under this brutal occupation is to live in an armed cage in the silence of a graveyard.”