UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan urged the UN Security Council on Tuesday to act immediately to protect children in conflict zones, particularly in the India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir [IOJK] where Indian forces have been deliberately targeting children with pellet guns.
“The scale and intensity of today’s conflicts is stretching our capacity to protect children,” Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram told the world body.
“Nowhere is this grim reality starker than in today’s IOJK. More than 300 innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, were killed in fake encounters and staged cordon-and-search operations,” the ambassador said in his written statement to the Security Council.
In a report to the council on Monday, UN Secretary General António Guterres urged India to end the use of pellets against children in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and stop associating children with the security forces in any way.
In its written statement, Pakistan reminded the Security Council that during 2020, some of the worst atrocities and state terrorism took place in IOJK:
More than 750 Kashmiris were critically injured, while 2,770 innocent Kashmiris were arbitrarily detained, and 922 houses destroyed as part of collective punishment inflicted on the Kashmiri communities.
Pakistan reminded the council of a gut-wrenching picture of a three-year-old Kashmiri boy sitting on the body of his grandfather (Muhammad Bashir) killed by the Indian forces that went viral on the internet, drawing ire from social media and civil society. The three-year-old boy was shown sitting on top of his motionless grandfather as he cried.
“Such inhuman actions are not only in violation of the UNSC resolutions on Children and Armed Conflict but are also in breach of the ‘best interests of the child’ principle under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party,” Ambassador Akram said.
The worsening situation and increased attacks against children in IOJK, as reported in the latest report of the Secretary General, “calls for Security Council’s intervention by holding India accountable for its grave breaches of international humanitarian law and war crimes in IOJK,” he added.
Quoting from the Secretary General’s latest report, Pakistan pointed out that: The overall number of grave violations remained alarmingly high at 26,425. These violations include the continued killing and maiming of children, the recruitment and use of child soldiers, sexual violence and abduction, attacks against schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.
The report further revealed that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated difficulties in the protection of children affected by armed conflicts, with humanitarian agencies finding it hard to conduct their work safely.
“Whatever the causes of modern-day brutality towards children, the time has come to call a halt. These acts must end, and perpetrators must be held to account,” the ambassador said.
The Secretary General’s latest report also has expressed deep concerns on the “grave violations” against children in occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian security forces. It also “raises alarm on the continued illegal detention of (Kashmiri) children, torture in detention and detention without charge or due process.
“In view of these serious concerns, the Secretary-General has rightly urged the Indian government to ‘immediately end’ such practices and take ‘preventive measures’ to protect children, including by ‘ending the use of pellets against children’ in IOJK,” Ambassador Akram said.
He informed the council that despite persistent concerns raised by multiple Special Rapporteurs and Mandate Holders of the Human Rights Council and experts on Children and Armed Conflict, the human rights and humanitarian situations continue to deteriorate for the innocent children of IOJK since Aug 5, 2019.
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2021