Pakistan urges action to end violence against religious, ethnic minorities in Middle East

New York, March 27, 2015

At the United Nations Security Council today Pakistan voiced concern over the way Islam was being maligned by certain vested interests as the source of current social and political chaos in the Middle East.

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, while participating in an Open Debate on Victims of Attacks and Abuses on Ethnic or Religious Grounds in the Middle East, said that throughout history, millions have been killed, tortured, maimed and dispossessed by the venom of religious and racial hatred.

“What is deeply offensive and unacceptable is that some vested interests attempt to blame our great faith- Islam - as the source of the current chaos, rather than recall its historical and political roots”, she added. She said that Islamic history in the region was replete with examples of what true Islam preaches - love, brotherhood, tolerance and humanity.

Ambassador Lodhi emphasized the need for genuine efforts to resolve the underlying political problems: among them a solution for the Palestine issue and other conflicts raging across the Levant and beyond.

Arguing against foreign intervention to overcome the challenges posed by current chaos in the Middle East, Ambassador Lodhi said that durable peace could only be restored through national reconciliation in each affected state, encouraged and promoted with regional and global support. She also underscored the need to fully respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of countries.

Pakistan endorsed the calls for relief and redress for the victims of these atrocities who have suffered grievously from religious and ethnic bigotry and extremism in the Middle East.

Pakistan envoy said that the partial or complete breakdown of state authority in Iraq and Syria had allowed the rise of violent groups – such as Daesh – inured to extremist ideologies and radical agendas and that the quest for power by cynical and brutal leaders, wrapped in religious cloaks, was not surprising in the circumstances.

“What is alarming is the fatal attraction of some of these groups for disaffected and alienated youth within and outside the Middle East”, she added.

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi cautioned that military and police action could deal with the symptoms of this phenomena, but not the disease.

She urged the 15-member Council for a more comprehensive approach – one that offers a path for the constructive involvement of youth in the economic, social and political life of their societies and states. “Most importantly, it requires an effective and thoughtful response to the narrative of many of these extremist groups: that Muslims have been historically oppressed and can regain their rights and freedoms only through violent means”, she added.

She concluded by saying that the Security Council could contribute to restoring peace and defeating the extremist and violent groups by helping to evolve a global consensus on the principles and structure for the solution of the challenges confronted in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and, most importantly, in Palestine. “In this, the Council cannot but adhere to the principles of the UN Charter and its own unimplemented Resolutions”, she added.