Open Debate of the UN Security Council on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (Wednesday, 25 May 2022) delivered by Ambassador Munir Akram. Madam President, We thank the United States delegation for convening this important annual Security Council debate on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, and thank all the briefers for their insightful interventions, says a press release received here today from New York. Madam President, 2. The Secretary-General’s latest report on this item (S/2022/381) paints a very grim picture. In 2021, the United Nations recorded at least 11,075 civilian deaths across 12 armed conflicts. Yet, the number of recorded civilian deaths actually declined in comparison to the previous year. This decline was due, in large measure, to the cessation of the conflict in Afghanistan after 15 August 2021. 3. After forty years of fighting, there is an opportunity now to restore peace, stability and development in Afghanistan. One government controls the entire country. There is no civil war. And no mass civilian casualties. 4. We commend the Secretary-General and UN Agencies for the extensive humanitarian operation underway in Afghanistan. This has saved millions of Afghan lives. Adequate external support is essential to restore the banking and financial system, reconstruct infrastructure and revive the economy, including by the use of the financial assets belonging to Afghanistan. Holding back such support will not promote the international community’s objectives of human rights or counter-terrorism; on the contrary, it may result in the opposite. 5. As Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs stated the day before in Davos: “Both the international community and the interim Afghan government need to revisit their approaches by prioritizing the interests and aspirations of ordinary Afghans.” 6. Together with neighbouring and other countries, Pakistan is working with the interim Afghan government to address all issues, including the threat posed by terrorist groups. It is only through persistent, patient, and prudent engagement that the international community can achieve the shared objectives of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Madam President, 7. The question arises: How to protect civilians when the suppression of civilians is the very object of a military's operations? 8. This is the case when foreign occupation forces resort to the forcible denial of the right of peoples to self-determination and seek to perpetuate their illegal occupation. 9. This is vividly illustrated in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) where the objective of the 900,000 Indian troops is to suppress the demand of the Kashmiri people for freedom (Azadi) and their legitimate right to self-determination, promised to them in the resolutions of the Security Council. 10. Since 5 August 2019, Indian troops are stationed in every city, town, village and neighbourhood of occupied Kashmir to impose what India's leaders have themselves ominously called a "final solution" for Jammu and Kashmir. They have resorted to "cordon and search" operations, extra judicial killing of innocent Kashmiris; collective punishments, destroying entire Kashmiri neighborhoods and villages; violence against peaceful protestors, including the use of "pellet guns" that have blinded hundreds of Kashmiri childrens, and arbitrary detention of 13,000 young Kashmiri boys and the entire Kashmiri political leadership. 11. Like other colonialists, India has sought to portray the Kashmiri freedom struggle as terrorism. It is India’s suppression of this legitimate struggle which violates international law and constitutes war crimes. 12. The conviction and sentencing today by an Indian Kangaroo Court of the Kashmiri leader, Yasin Malik, is the latest illustration of Indian oppression. As Prime Minister Sharif has declared: “India can imprison Yasin Malik but it can never imprison the idea of freedom he symbolizes”. 13. To consolidate its occupation, India is also embarked of transforming occupied Jammu and Kashmir from a Muslim majority State to a Hindu majority territory, in a blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and international law. Indian authorities are issuing millions of fake domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris, seizing and selling off their land, gerrymandering electoral constituencies, through its so-called “Delimitation Commission”, to reduce Muslim representation and install a BJP-RSS puppet government in Srinagar. Madam President, 14. The danger of another conflict between Pakistan and India will remain ever present until the dispute over Jammu & Kashmir is resolved. 15. The Secretary General’s report notes: “The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility”. This observation applies not only to the dangerous conflict now raging in Ukraine but also to a nuclearized South Asia. 16. Pakistan, therefore, urges the Secretary General and the Security Council not to neglect the Kashmir dispute; to deploy diplomacy and mobilize the political will to promote a just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. I thank you.