At UN Pakistan calls for effective strategy to prevent violent extremism

New York, 14 February 2016

Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said at the United Nations that violent extremism was the result of interplay between local and external factors and that “both dimensions have to be addressed by an effective preventive strategy”.

“Economic deprivation, political injustice, social exclusion and marginalization of people need to be addressed not only in the local context but also in the wider international context”, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative said while participating in the General Assembly debate on the recently announced UN Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

Ambassador Lodhi argued that injustices done to people under foreign occupation, denial of the right to self-determination, long-festering and unresolved disputes, and interference in the internal affairs of States create conditions that are exploited by violent extremists and terrorists to propagate their twisted ideologies.

“The international community, in particular the United Nations, already has a responsibility to address these issues. Doing so, diligently, will also address the drivers of violent extremism and the conditions conducive to terrorism”.

She said that Pakistan was gratified to note that the international community is finally acknowledging the need to go beyond security and military centered counterterrorist measures and adopt a more comprehensive approach. Pakistan has long advocated this so that the underlying factors that drive terrorist violence are addressed in their entirety. But Ambassador Lodhi expressed surprise and dismay at the relatively little attention given by the SG's Action Plan to obvious international factors that have so decisively influenced the emergence of violent extremism.

Ambassador Lodhi told the 193-member General Assembly that the rise of xenophobia, in particular Islamophobia in the West, has also fueled the process of radicalization. “This has so far gone unchecked and unfortunately unprincipled, xenophobic politicians have sought to build their political fortunes by spreading fear and deliberate mischaracterization of people of other faiths or culture”.

Stressing the need to ensure respect for international law and human rights in counterterrorism measures, the Pakistani envoy assailed foreign military interventions that she said have rendered countries and regions susceptible to the chaos in which violent extremism thrives.

She also criticized so-called surgical counterterrorism strikes, in violation of the territorial integrity of States, which have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties and left entire communities angry and determined to avenge such impunity.

With regard to the Secretary General’s call for National Action Plans to prevent violent extremism, Ambassador Lodhi told the world body of the steps taken by the Government of Pakistan to curb this threat, at the national, regional and international levels.

She said that eight of the 20 Action Points of Pakistan’s National Action Plan to counter terrorist violence pertain to preventing violent extremism. “We are fully cognizant of our national challenges and are making focused efforts to deal with this scourge.”

While reiterating Pakistan’s principled position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations Ambassador Lodhi assured the country’s support to all efforts aimed at preventing violent extremism and terrorism in a balanced manner, consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

At the same time, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi deplored any attempt to associate violent extremism and terrorism with any country, race, religion, culture or nationality and urged the international community to ensure that this is fully reflected in their national and international actions.