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Pakistan calls for inclusive political solutions to disputes

Pakistan calls for inclusive political solutions to disputes

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan told the international community on Tuesday that the protection of civilians is best served by “addressing the root causes of conflicts, and finding inclusive political solutions to disputes and seeking peaceful settlement of conflicts”.

Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the Security Council, “this strategy would lead us to sustainable and enduring peace and security; it has been demonstrated time and again, terrorists are not bound by any consideration of humanity.”

She said: “The protection of civilians is a system-wide responsibility. The host countries bear the primary responsibility for protection of all civilians without discrimination."

“A normative framework is in place and the international community keeps urging all parties to comply with their obligations and abide by international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.”

Ms Lodhi regretted that “compliance, unfortunately, is sporadic at best, and defiance remains rampant, especially, but not only, by non-state actors”.

She said: “As recent examples testify, starvation has been used as an instrument of a siege strategy and indiscriminate bombing campaigns have been undertaken with no regard to the loss of civilian lives. The destruction of hospitals and attacks on medical workers has been the most egregious example of the impunity of such violations of international humanitarian law.

“They have not even spared school children as the cowardly attack on a school in Peshawar showed a year ago, underlining the new and appalling levels of inhumanity to which violent extremists have sunk.”

However, she declared that the response of states to combat terrorism must be measured, well planned and carefully targeted to protect civilian lives and uphold human rights. Anything less would play into the hands of terrorists and be counter-productive.

She pointed out “Pakistan, as one of world’s top troop contributing countries, has proudly and conscientiously undertaken the task of proactively protecting civilians, when mandated by the council, including in current missions in the DRC, Darfur, Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic and Liberia.

We have demonstrated that this can be done by a robust deterrence posture and without resort to the use of force. Action by Pakistani troops in UNAMID offers an example of active protection of civilians while adhering to the principles of peacekeeping. Through robust posturing and preventive diplomacy, it was able to avert a bloodbath.”

Ms Lodhi said, “we appreciate the acknowledgement in the secretary general’s report that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations “involves better advance planning to limit the effect on civilians”, we reiterate that these are law enforcement actions and do not constitute a situation of armed conflict.

“We, of course, strongly condemn the deliberate targeting of civilians in conflict situations. We have even temporarily relocated civilians to protect them from deliberate targeting by terrorists in areas where law enforcement operations are going”.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2016

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