Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in the Debate of the General Assembly on the Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organization New York (October 3, 2017)

Mr. President,

We thank the Secretary General for his annual report on the work of the organization (A/72/1).

We concur with the Secretary General’s assessment that the international situation is marked by ‘conflicting trends’. While we have made important progress in our fight against extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease, the dividends of these gains are unequally distributed. Inequality, exclusion and lack of opportunity continue to blight the hopes and aspirations of millions of people, especially women and girls.

As advancements in communication and commerce have made the world more interconnected and interdependent, there are powerful voices of discontent casting doubt at the very foundations of the ‘liberal’ economic international order. At the same time, changing climatic patterns have unleashed nature’s fury in previously unforeseen ways.

Internecine violence and conflict continue to undermine the prospects of peace and stability across many parts of the world. Protracted conflicts have also spawned unprecedented humanitarian crises if not emergencies. Already displaced by the ravages of war, countless millions, including children, are forced to wage fresh battles of survival against famine and disease.

Meanwhile terrorism, which has mutated into new and more dangerous forms, is yet to be defeated.

At a time when international cooperation is needed the most to address the myriad of interrelated and mutually reinforcing challenges, the world is becoming more divided and polarized.

As the Secretary General urges in his report, we must revive faith in multilateralism to face the most pressing, indeed shared, challenges of our times. The UN remains indispensable to our efforts to restore order and ensure global peace, stability and prosperity.

Just as the world has evolved over the last seventy years, so must the United Nations, to effectively address these challenges. Today, more than ever, we need the United Nations to provide the parameters, processes and platforms for global cooperation that are essential to addressing the wide ranging challenges to peace, security, and development.

We welcome the efforts launched by Secretary General Antonio Guterres to revitalize the United Nations’ capabilities in Peace and Security, Development and Management.

By the same token, the Security Council cannot remain oblivious to this process of change. A comprehensive reform of the Security Council is 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”.

Mr. President,

We consider the Secretary General’s emphasis on ‘prevention’ both apt and timely. A surge in diplomacy is the best response to any threat to peace. Over the years, peacekeeping has remained the UN’s flagship enterprise for conflict prevention, mediation and sustaining peace.

Among the world’s top troop contributing countries, Pakistan is 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 have paid the ultimate sacrifice to uphold international peace and security.

Our peacekeepers have 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.

Mr. President,

Respect for human rights is at the core of the Secretary General’s call for prevention and sustaining peace. The edifice of peace can 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 continuing Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is a travesty of justice, law and morality. The dispute has been on the Agenda of the Security Council for almost 70 years. But the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir still await the implementation of numerous Security Council resolutions, which promised them their inalienable right of self-determination.

The Kashmiris have waged a heroic and popular struggle against occupation. India has used brutal and indiscriminate force to suppress this indigenous freedom movement. Hundreds of innocent, unarmed Kashmiris have been martyred in the recent wave of protests; countless others have been blinded and maimed by pellet guns, in what has widely been described as the first ‘mass blinding’ in human history.

Indian atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir are well documented by international human rights organizations. India does not deny these actions. It defends them. It does not express remorse on the acts of the perpetrators of these war crimes. It rewards them with national honors.

Mr. President,

To cover up its crimes against the Kashmiri people, and to divert world attention, India resorts to daily violation of the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir. 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. This provides Pakistan sufficient reason to respond in exercise of its right to self-defense. By making such false claims and blatant threats, are India's leaders attempting to provoke a conflict with Pakistan?

All I can say to them is: do not underestimate Pakistan's resolve and capacity to defend itself. Any aggression or intervention will meet a matching and effective response from our armed forces and the people of Pakistan.

Nor should the United Nations ignore these open threats to use force by India. The international community should take urgent action to prevail on India to halt its provocations against Pakistan.

The nations of the world represented here cannot allow India 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.

The brutalization of peoples kept under foreign occupation is, in fact, considered as the gravest form of terrorism by the Non-Aligned Movement, comprising almost two thirds of the General Assembly’s membership.

Mr. President,

Pakistan has been on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism. Our military campaign, involving over 200,000 troops, have crushed and eliminated terrorist groups in our frontier regions and our towns and cities. We have paid a heavy price: 27,000 civilians and soldiers have been martyred, many more have been injured. But we will continue this fight until we accomplish our objectives.

Terrorism is now a global phenomenon, which must be addressed comprehensively and in all its forms, including State terrorism.

The global threat of terrorism cannot, however, be defeated unless we address its underlying causes. Poverty and ignorance are part of the problem. So are social and political exclusion, foreign intervention and the denial of economic and political justice.

Extremist ideologies must also be challenged and countered.

Mr. President,

Dag Hammarskjold famously said that the United Nations "was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell." In the midst of profound and imposing challenges confronting us today, the United Nations remains our best hope to save our succeeding generations from the scourge of war.

Pakistan’s commitment to this ‘Parliament of Man’ is firm and abiding, to work collectively for a better and brighter future, for all humanity.

I thank you.