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Pakistan warns India against any cross-LoC strikes

UNITED NATIONS: A top Pakistani diplomat Tuesday sternly warned India against its repeated threats to carry out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region, saying Pakistan would effectively respond to any Indian aggression.

“All I can say to them is: do not underestimate Pakistan’s resolve and capacity to defend itself,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the UN General Assembly.

“Any aggression or intervention will meet a matching and effective response from our armed forces and the people of Pakistan,” she said while participating in a debate on the annual report of UN Secretary-General on the work of the organization.

The Pakistani envoy went on to urge the United Nations and the international community to take “urgent” action to prevail on India to stop its open threats to use force amid the prevailing tensions between the two countries.

India, she said, resorted to daily violations of the ceasefire along the LoC to cover up its crimes against the Kashmiri people and to divert world attention from its occupation. “It claims, falsely, to have conducted a so-called ‘surgical strike’ across the Line of Control.

This claim, and India’s repeated threats to conduct such ‘strikes’ across the LOC, constitute flagrant violations of the UN Charter’s injunction against the use or threat of use of force,” Ambassador Lodhi pointed out.

“This provides Pakistan sufficient reason to respond in exercise of its right to self-defence. By making such false claims and blatant threats, are India’s leaders attempting to provoke a conflict with Pakistan?,” she asked.

Describing the continuing Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir a travesty of justice, law and morality, the Pakistani envoy said the people of Indian occupied Kashmir still awaited the implementation of numerous Security Council resolutions, adopted some 70 years ago, that promised them their inalienable right to self-determination.

India has used brutal and indiscriminate force to suppress the heroic indigenous freedom movement against the occupation, she said, noting that hundreds of innocent, unarmed Kashmiris had been martyred in the recent wave of protests; countless others have been blinded and maimed by pellet guns, in what had widely been described as the first “mass blinding” in human history.

Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir, she said, were well-documented by international human rights organizations, but India defended them.  “It does not express remorse on the acts of the perpetrators of these war crimes. It rewards them with national honours.”

Ambassador Lodhi said the edifice of peace could only be built on the foundation of justice. “Yet, these universal ideals are being violated, in plain sight of the international community, in Palestine, in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and elsewhere.”

The Pakistani envoy called on the international community not to allow impunity to conduct its crimes against humanity in Kashmir under the “flimsy” cover of combating terrorism. “The only terrorism in Kashmir is India’s state terrorism,” she said.

On its part, she said, Pakistan had been on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism, with its military campaign, involving over 200,000 troops, having crushed and eliminated terrorist groups in the country’s frontier regions and its towns and cities. Despite paying a heavy price — 27,000 civilians and soldiers martyred, many more injured —  Pakistan would continue this fight until its objectives were achieved.

The Pakistani envoy called for comprehensively addressing terrorism in all its forms, including state terrorism, but that menace would not be defeated without dealing with its underlying causes. Poverty and ignorance were part of the problem as also social and political exclusion, foreign intervention and the denial of economic and political justice.

“Extremist ideologies must also be challenged and countered,” she said.

Backing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ emphasis on “prevention”, Ambassador Lodhi said a surge in diplomacy was the best response to any threat to peace. Over the years, she noted peacekeeping had remained the UN’s flagship enterprise for conflict prevention, mediation and sustaining peace.

Pakistan, as the world’s top troop contributing countries, was proud to have played its part in bringing hope to the lives of millions of people, caught up in conflict across the world. This year alone, five Pakistani peacekeepers had paid the ultimate sacrifice to uphold international peace and security, she added.

Pakistani peacekeepers, she said, had always displayed the highest standards of professionalism and conduct. Pakistan was also among the first batch of countries to sign the UN’s voluntary compact on preventing and addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.

Welcoming UN chief’s efforts to revitalize the United Nations, she said a comprehensive reform of the Security Council was equally important. “But as Pakistan’s Prime Minister told this Assembly last month, the process should transform ‘the Security Council into a more representative, democratic and accountable body rather than an expanded club of the powerful and the privileged’.