Pakistan urges UNSC to hold India accountable for war crimes in Kashmir

NEW YORK (APP): Pakistan has called on the UN Security Council to intervene and hold India accountable for its grave breaches of international humanitarian law and war crimes in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and to take steps to settle the decades-old dispute.

“Inaction by the Security Council in cases of foreign aggression and occupation comes at a high human cost,” Ambassador Munir Akram warned the 15-member body, which held a virtual meeting on the ‘Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict’ on Wednesday.

The Pakistani envoy urged the Council to focus on the root causes of emerging and long-standing conflicts, including Kashmir and Palestine, and find inclusive political solutions.

India, he said, had “callously” exploited the coronavirus crisis to enhance its control of the occupied territory, already reeling from a nine-month-long digital and physical lockdown, to place the valley under a “double lockdown” severely impeding Kashmiris’ access to medicines, medical help and information on ways to deal with the pandemic.

“While the world’s attention was riveted on combating the COVID-19 virus, India has taken further steps, almost by stealth, to change the demography of occupied Jammu and Kashmir by promulgating new ‘domicile’ regulations that would enable settlers from all over India to colonize the occupied state in violation of Security Council resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he told the high-level meeting in his continuing efforts to expose Indian atrocities in Kashmir.

Ambassador Akram said the Indian security forces had again resorted to indiscriminate use of “pellet guns”, arbitrary arrests, extra judicial killings and live ammunition against civilians to suppress the legitimate resistance of the Kashmiri people for self-determination.

In April alone, 33 Kashmiris were killed, 152 injured and 945 arbitrarily arrested, he said. In another inhumane practice, the Indian security forces refused to return the bodies of killed Kashmiris to their families.

Defying the UN Secretary General’s global call for ceasefire, the Pakistani envoy said India had intensified its violations of the ceasefire along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region and the “Working Boundary,” committing 989 violations since January 1, and also targeting civilians on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control, killing 6 and injuring 82 civilians.

“In flagrant violation of Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, India has frequently placed its artillery guns within crowded Kashmiri villages, using them as human shields, to avoid Pakistani retaliation for its ceasefire violations.”

Ambassador Akram regretted the inequity in the international response to the challenge of addressing gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, noting that in some situations, there was a quick and even robust response, while in others, the perpetrators enjoyed virtual impunity.

“Most often, there is sufficient public concern, but insufficient political will to act,” he said. “The record of the Security Council itself in this context is not without blemish. In the circumstances, it is vital to reinforce the concept of protection of civilians in all such situations of complex crises.”

Ambassador Akram highlighted that Pakistan, as one of the world’s top troop contributing countries, had “proudly and conscientiously” undertaken the task of proactively protecting civilians, in collaboration with the host governments, as and when mandated by the Security Council.

“While the fundamental Principles of Peacekeeping are not an impediment to the Protection of Civilian mandates, the primary responsibility for protection of all civilians nonetheless, rests with the host countries,” he said. “The clear distinction between the established norm of protection of civilians and the evolving concept of responsibility to protect must therefore be maintained.”

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