At UN, Pakistan urges focus on children’s plight in occupied Kashmir

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has urged Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, to remain focused on the suffering of children in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, observing New Delhi was committing “horrifying crimes” against children in the Muslim-majority region.

“Children and youth are routinely detained and subjected to torture and ill-treatment in order to elicit intelligence or extract confessions that they are associated with the Kashmiri groups struggling for the self-determination which was promised by the Security Council,” Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative at the UN, told the 15-nation Security Council.

Speaking in the annual debate on “Children and Armed Conflict”, the envoy said: “In a world still afflicted by Covid-19 by protracted and new conflicts, and by a food, fuel and financial emergency, it is evident that we must do more to protect our children and ensure their safety, welfare and prosperity.”

Earlier, Gamba, while introducing the report of the Secretary-General, said the abuses children were subjected to over the last year were as grievous as they were many.

In his remarks, Ambassador Akram cited the secretary general’s report which urged New Delhi to undertake preventive measures to protect children in occupied Kashmir, including by ending the use of pellets and illegal detention, both in the Himalayan region and in several prisons across India.

Since August 2019, when India passed legislation to annex the disputed territory, an estimated 13,000 children and youth have been arbitrarily captured by the 900,000-strong army deployed in Kashmir, Akram said.

“The list of such horrifying crimes is long,” he said.

He recalled Islamabad released a comprehensive dossier covering accounts, corroborated by audio and video evidence, of 3,432 cases of war crimes, including those committed against women and children, perpetrated by senior military officials since 1989.

“We will share this evidence with the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, and the SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-general), and urge that those responsible be held accountable,” Ambassador Akram said.

“We would also urge the Office of the SRSG to continue to closely monitor and report on the situation of children in IIOJK [Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir],” he added.

While voicing support for Gamba to deal with situations of children in armed conflict, Akram underscored its singular focus to address the conditions of children in situations of “armed conflicts”.

However, he pointed out that it does not extend to consideration of violence within the member states which is within their national jurisdictions.

“On the basis of this understanding, my delegation will further enhance our engagement with [Gamba] and the Security Council’s working group,” he said.

Ambassador Akram’s sharp remarks drew a response from the Indian delegate, Ashish Sharma, claiming Pakistan was misusing the forum.

Sharma claimed the entire territories of Jammu and Kashmir “were, are and will always be an integral, inalienable part” of India.

At this, Muhammad Rashid, a third secretary at Pakistan’s mission, hit back, observing that “Kashmir is neither nor was it ever a part of India”.

In all its resolutions on this issue, he said, the Security Council has decided that the final disposition of Kashmir shall be determined by its people through a United Nations- supervised plebiscite, pointing out India has accepted this decision and is bound to comply with it.

The maps of the United Nations all show Kashmir as disputed territory, said Rashid.

In Kashmir, he said the oldest United Nations peace-keeping force is deployed at present along the cease-fire line. Above all, the report which is under consideration by the Security Council itself considers Kashmir as a disputed territory.

“If India has any respect for international law and moral courage, it will end its reign of terror, withdraw its troops and let the Kashmiris freely decide their future in accordance with the Security Council resolutions,” he said.

Rashid went on to say that Pakistan possesses concrete evidence that terrorist organisations have been financed and sponsored by Indian intelligence and security agencies, that India has sponsored terrorism against all its neighbours, and that there has been no terrorism across the line of control in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where the ceasefire, agreed on in February 2021, is holding.

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