Resolve Palestine, Kashmir issues or risk losing credibility: Maleeha

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has made a fervent call on the UN Security Council to face up to its responsibilities and implement its resolutions on Palestine and other longstanding disputes, including Kashmir, to usher in peace and security in the conflict-ridden world.

Otherwise, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, warned that people around the world would completely lose their faith in the world body.

Speaking in a Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East on Thursday, the Pakistani envoy took issue with the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon, who had attempted to shift the attention from Israel’s illegal and repressive actions in Palestine to the activities of Iran which he claimed were destabilising the region.

The Tel Aviv ambassador also claimed that there were 82,000 fighters under the direct Iranian authority in Syria, including 3,000 members of its Revolutionary Guard, 9,000 from Hizbullah and 10,000 Shia militants from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Ambassador Lodhi deplored the Israeli envoy’s attempt to deflect attention from the tragedy of the Palestinian people, saying, “We know why; occupiers have no case to make other than to create alternate facts.”

She also said the decision by the US and some other countries to relocate their embassies to occupied Jerusalem had further inflamed the situation in the Middle East. Their justification of the move as an expression of their sovereign right was “a false determination”.

The legal status of Jerusalem was unambiguous, Ambassador Lodhi said.

Several Security Council and General Assembly resolutions affirmed that all legislative and administrative measures taken by the occupying power to alter the character and status of Jerusalem a “null and void”.

Any action to the contrary was also a blatant attempt to legitimize Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem, she said.

“When principles are trumped by self-serving interests, rationality and reason are invariably supplanted by threat and intimidation,” the Pakistani envoy said.

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“We have witnessed this unfortunate spectacle with disturbing frequency in recent days, including at the UN.”

Despite these provocations, she said, the international community had stood firm in their support for the Palestinian cause.

“Pakistan will continue to support the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, as indeed, people living under foreign occupation in Kashmir and elsewhere,” Ambassador Lodhi told the 15-member Council.

“The Middle East can only seek the dividend of peace if it is built on the foundation of justice – an imperative that entails a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of the Palestinian State.”

The Pakistani envoy also voiced deep concern over the aggravation in the financial situation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) following the recent US decision to withhold more than half its funding to the organisation, saying the international community must not fail the Palestinian refugees.

“We must act now to ensure sufficient and sustainable financing for UNRWA,” she said, adding, “Its activities are a lifeline for Palestinian refugees.”

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Ambassador Lodhi called for a surge in diplomacy to kick-start an inclusive political process, with the prompt replacement of the outgoing Special Representative, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

“This must be complemented by a massive humanitarian surge to address the suffering of the Yemini people, especially women and children.”

In Syria, she said, continued engagement by all sides in genuine, representative and direct intra-Syrian negotiations was the only way forward towards finding a political settlement of the conflict.

“We hope the latest round of talks in Vienna will produce concrete results.”

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