At UN, Pakistan highlights huge losses suffered by Kashmiris under India’s military siege

United Nations, March 13 : Pakistan told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that India’s “inhuman” military siege of occupied Jammu and Kashmir has caused $3.5 billion in economic loss to the civilian population, saying the coercive actions of Indian troops in the disputed territory violated UN resolutions.

In a statement submitted to 15-member Council that debated the link between conflict and food security, Ambassador Munir Akram said that situations of conflict as well as foreign occupation remained one of the principal sources of global hunger and starvation.

“The complete communications blackout, imposition of shoot-at-sight curfews, and severing of all transport links, imposed now for nearly 600 days, has prevented Kashmiri farmers from reaching their farmlands and resulting in acute food shortages,” the Pakistani envoy said.

Thousands of acres of farmland remained untended, with Kashmiris having watched helplessly as the produce of their apple orchards has rotted away, he said. Farm products, constituting the entire year’s worth of income for most Kashmiri farmers, had perished without reaching markets.

“Such deliberate actions to coerce the civilian population into submission constitute violations of UNSC resolution 2417 (2018), which inter alia calls for protecting civilian objects, sources of food production and distribution; and condemns actions that deprive civilian populations of all essentials indispensable for their survival,” Ambassador Akram said.

These measures, he added, were also against a 1970 UN General Assembly resolution which, among other elements, guarantees peoples living under foreign occupation, effective control over their natural resources and economic activities.

The siege was imposed on Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K) on 5 August 2019 to forcibly change the status and demographic composition of the UN-recognized disputed territory, as well as to deny the Kashmiri people their UN-prescribed right to self-determination, it was pointed out.

Pakistan, he said, supported the resolution of ongoing conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy on the basis of UN resolutions and international agreements.

A peaceful and stable Afghanistan was indispensable for peace and stability, Ambassador Akram said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had consistently maintained that the Afghan conflict must be ended, not by military force, but through a political settlement involving the full spectrum of the country’s political landscape.

“We believe that sustainable peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process,” the Pakistani envoy said, pointing out that Pakistan had fully facilitated the peace and reconciliation process.

Pakistan had also committed US$ 1 billion to development in Afghanistan, and nearly US$ 500 million has already been used for infrastructure and capacity-building projects to spur economic growth for the entire region.

Conflict-induced food insecurity has assumed even greater significance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Pakistani envoy said.

“Failure to address this challenge will exacerbate existing global and national inequalities, thereby feeding the vicious cycle of hunger, deprivation, poverty and conflict… “We must address the systemic causes of poverty and hunger; eliminate rural poverty and protect our food systems, which are the main source of livelihoods for nearly 4.5 billion people,” he added.

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