Maleeha gets applause in Security Council for her role

United Nations, October 30, 2019: Pakistan’s outgoing Ambassador, Maleeha Lodhi, Tuesday made an impassioned plea to the UN Security Council to “safeguard and protect” the suffering women in curfew-bound Indian Occupied Kashmir, with the chamber bursting into applause when she also announced that it was her last appearance in the 15-member body.

“For almost three months,” she said, “the world has watched in horror, as a cruel Indian clampdown on all civil liberties in occupied Kashmir, and its illegal annexation of the disputed territory, in gross violation of international law and several Security Council resolutions, have exacerbated the suffering of people, especially women and girls.”

Speaking in a debate on Women, Peace and Security, the Pakistani envoy also said, “I was the first woman in seventy years to represent my country at the UN,” adding that she was honoured and privileged to speak for Pakistan, especially in the Security Council chamber. “I am confident it won’t take 70 years for another woman to represent Pakistan here,” she told cheering delegates sitting around the horse-shoe table.

After the Council meeting, she said in an interview, “It was a humbling moment for me to be applauded in the world’s highest diplomatic forum.”

In her remarks, the Pakistani envoy described resolution 1325 (2000) as a watershed in placing women’s issues at the center of the global conflict prevention debate, but said the agenda’s implementation still suffers at the hands of various geopolitical interests.

“We need to reaffirm that this agenda applies to all women in conflict situations, especially in cases of foreign occupation such as in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” she said, referring to the plight of the people, especially of women, in occupied Kashmir which was placed under military lockdown on August 5, when India annexed the disputed state in violation of UN resolutions.

“The anguish of Kashmiri women is further compounded when their family members, including children, are abducted in midnight raids, illegally detained and then tortured by occupying forces; when unremitting restrictions on movement and communication condemns women in occupied Kashmir to seeing their children suffer and die for lack of medical help,” Ambassador Lodhi said.

“The continuing lockdown has not only made access to healthcare, food supply, and even communication with loved ones next to impossible, it has also made women more vulnerable to abuse, as they are left at the mercy of occupying forces enforcing an inhumane curfew. Rape after all has long been used here – and confirmed in reports of international human rights organizations – as a brutal tactic to humiliate an entire community.”

“This travesty of justice must end,” she said, calling on the Security Council to address that dire and unacceptable situation.

At the outset, Ambassador Lodhi said the various UN anniversaries in 2020 mark a good time to take stock of strides achieved in the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, and to course correct where needed.

“The world remains a dangerous place, especially for women,” she said, noting that over 50 parties around the world are suspected of committing such crimes as rape and sexual violence in conflict. Women bear the brunt of such violations, which prevents them from participating fully and meaningfully in peace processes.

She concluded by saying that giving women a key role would be a game changer in contributing significantly to building a foundation for a lasting and sustainable peace.

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