UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has made a strong plea to the international community to find effective ways to protect children in conflict zones and occupied territories, citing their woeful plight in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK), Palestine, Myanmar and Yemen.
Speaking in the UN Security Council on Monday, Pakistan UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi denounced the rampant violations and abuses of international law affecting children, saying this disturbing trend shows no sign of abating.
Ambassador Lodhi, who was participating in a debate on ‘Children and Armed Conflict’, said that children were often at the heart of conflict and in consequence directly targeted, with their homes and schools destroyed and food and water supplies deliberately cut off.
Under foreign occupation, she said, they were subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention and torture. “And mass blinding too as the use of pellet guns by occupation forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir testifies.”
The Pakistani envoy said the recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights found “multiple cases of children under 18 years being arbitrarily detained and tortured in Indian Occupied Kashmir under the garb of a black law, the so called Public Security Act.
“The plight of children in Palestine, Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, Myanmar and Yemen should galvanize the international community to find new and effective ways to protect those most vulnerable,” Ambassador Lodhi told the 15-member Council.
The most effective way to protect children, she said, was by preventing and resolving conflicts, ending foreign occupation and sustaining peace.
“This must be our top priority and that of this Council,” she declared.
The Pakistani envoy’s firm statement on the plight of oppressed people in Indian occupied Kashmir evoked a response from India’s delegate Tanmaya Lal.
Noting that today’s Council’s debate is a thematic in nature, the Indian delegate accused Pakistan of misusing the forum by referring to situations that are extraneous to the discussion.
In doing so they have referred to a so-called report about the State of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding, “An unfit documentation has been used in the forum.”
The Indian delegate also accused Pakistan of interfering in Indian held Kashmir.
Exercising his right of reply, Javaad Chatta, a second secretary at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, said India’s fabrications do not lend its credibility but only satisfy the cause of self-delusion. The statement, he said, demonstrates India’s farcical position on the issue of real human right violations committed by its officials against civilians in the illegally and brutally occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 100,000 Kashmiris, including children, were killed there and the deaths continue, he said, urging the Council to act as the conscience of the world.
Pakistan supports the proposal to establish a commission of inquiry into crimes committed by the Indian occupation forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the Pakistani diplomat said.
“This proposal is consistent with Pakistan’s several calls to this effect since 2016, even as India has continued to ignore legitimate demands for probe into gross and systematic violations, including use of pellet guns excessive use of force, arbitrary arrest and detentions including that of children as well as continued sexual violence as part of overall impunity enjoyed by Indian security forces,” Chatta added.
Earlier, the Security Council adopted a resolution urging UN member states to mainstream child protection into the policies they introduce aimed at preventing conflict.
The Council discussed the latest UN annual report on Children and Armed Conflict which revealed that once again, the number of boys and girls affected by fighting has increased, with more than 21,000 violations documented during the past year.
Virginia Gamba, the UN expert on the issue, said these abuses should remind countries that they need to work together to reverse the trend.
â€œWe cannot further jeopardize our most precious resource through inaction, but must increase our efforts to develop preventive tools, utilize reintegration strategically to break cycles of violence and address the cross-border nature of violations through increased cooperation, she said.
The head of the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, reported that one in four boys and girls globally has been impacted by conflict or disaster.
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director, asked the 15 ambassadors to think about what will become of these children, both in the short and long term.—INP