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September 10, 2019

Maleeha urges UN action, ‘not just words’ in held Kashmir


September 10, 2019

By News Desk

NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, has called on the United Nations for action — “not just words” — to deal with the grave crisis stemming from India’s illegal annexation of occupied Kashmir.

She also urged the UN to push for the implementation of the Security Council resolutions that pledged the right to self-determination for the Kashmiri people.

In an interview with Consortium News, an independent American current affairs television channel, she highlighted the gravity of the situation in the disputed region where people have been suffering under a repressive military lockdown for over a month, and urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take steps to prevent a bigger crisis in South Asia.

“What has happened in occupied Jammu and Kashmir is certainly a flashpoint,” Ambassador Lodhi said, while noting that the secretary-general and other UN officials have made statements in the wake of the ongoing crisis that called for a settlement of the Kashmir dispute through dialogue between India and Pakistan in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions and Charter provisions.

“But we need action. We just don’t need words. We need action,” she said emphatically. “There are already tensions which are at a peak between India and Pakistan and the situation can snowball into a much bigger crisis,” the Pakistani envoy warned.

“So, I think, the UN certainly has long-standing obligations, and it also has immediate obligations, including ending the human rights violations that are going on.” Ambassador Lodhi said Prime Minister Imran Khan was “absolutely right” in repeatedly warning that situation in Kashmir could turn into a bigger crisis. “This is a very fraught situation,” she said.

About the UN secretary-general’s role, the Pakistani envoy said his offer to mediate the Kashmir dispute has repeatedly been rejected by India. “So, where are we right now? India refuses to talk to Pakistan, India refuses to accept mediation whether it is mediation offered by President (Donald) Trump or it is offered by UN secretary-general, and India refuses to abide by it human rights commitments.

“This is a litany of no, no, no to everything except to repression, oppression, violations and acting with impunity which its occupation forces are doing in Kashmir.” Questioned about Pakistan Army’s statement pledging to exercise all options, Ambassador Lodhi said: “I think that the intent of that statement was to say that we will stand by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they are not alone, that we would continue to be their protector and that we would continue to speak out for them and whatever we can do and that all diplomatic and political options will be exercised by Pakistan which is exactly what we are doing.”

About the possibility of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, she said that Islamabad does not wish to see any kind of conflict. Pakistan, she said, was a responsible nuclear state. She said: “That is why we are urging the international community that it must step in before the bigger crisis. We do not wish to see a bigger crisis. There is a crisis that is going on now in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“The crisis has affected the daily lives of men, women and children and before it gets out of hand, it’s important that the international community acts to prevent any bigger crisis.”

At the outset of the interview, Lodhi explained to her audience the main features of the decades-old Kashmir dispute, and said: “The story of Kashmir is a story of monumental tragedy, of broken promises, human rights violations, military occupation and what we see today: a curfew that has lasted for over 32 days with all of Jammu and Kashmir being turned into and armed cage, with people not even allowed to come out of their homes.” Asked whether India’s actions in Kashmir could be compared to what Israel was doing in the Palestinian territories, she said both issues are “about the plight of the people who have been dispossessed, who have seen their liberty taken away from them in every possible way”.

She added: “So, I think when we talk about the people of occupied Kashmir, we must remember this is about people who are in deep distress, who are held prisoners in their own land, who are not free, whose children cannot go to school.

“What you are looking at is a situation of deep distress. And I think the fact that human rights organisations — like Amnesty, like Human Rights Watch, like the Committee for the Protection of Journalists are all speaking out, they are calling out India’s outrageous behaviour and its cruelty to the people of Occupied Kashmir.”

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