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Pakistan took exception to a UN report that termed its law enforcement operation against terrorists in the Khyber Agency ‘armed conflict’, while pointing out that it fails to take due notice of the situations of foreign occupation.Speaking in a Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Ambassador Raza Bashir Tarar, Pakistan's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said by no stretch of imagination could Pakistan’s law enforcement operation against terrorists be termed armed conflict.
"We are disappointed that the authors of this report have clearly violated the mandate by mentioning Pakistan in the report," he said. "This anomaly must be resolved."The report, which was issued in the name of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, referred to the displacement of civilians from armed conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. In this context, the report also said some 200,000 people have been displaced in Pakistan since January by security operations in the Khyber Agency.
It also made references to denial of access in conflict areas to humanitarian workers in different parts of the world, including Pakistan. “The Secretary General’s report has unwarranted references to Pakistan, which we plainly reject," Ambassador Tarar told the 15-member Council. “Pakistan has suffered immensely from the menace of terrorism, with thousands of lives lost among the security and law enforcement bodies and civilians," he said. "Pakistan’s law enforcement operation against terrorists cannot be termed 'armed conflict’. “The Pakistani envoy said questions had been raised about the Security Council’s role and mandate and its ability to objectively deliver on such themes as “the protection of civilians in armed conflict”. The compelling need to protect civilians in armed conflict had led to a broad consensus that such protection be pursued objectively and without politicisation.
Regrettably, he said there had been a trend of out-of-context and selective reporting on those issues. The last two reports of the Secretary-General on protection of civilians, including the one under consideration, stretched to situations that could not be described as armed conflict and were thus outside the mandate of the report. “The challenge of protecting civilians in armed conflict is exacerbated by inequity in international response," Ambassador Tarar pointed out. The Security Council, he said, had failed to respond to the crisis and the unacceptable situation in Gaza where over a million people remain in a virtual incarceration and suffer from collective punishment. "Such unequal attention to various situations is also evident in the priorities and activities of some international humanitarian organisations and actors as is clear from today’s debate.
“Noting that Pakistan was a leading troop contributor to peacekeeping missions, the Pakistani envoy emphasised the need to respect host-country primacy in ensuring civilian protection and stressed the need for careful evaluation of all legal aspects of civilian protection in peacekeeping operations, given misplaced expectations under a recent mandate revision that asked peacekeepers to pre-empt a threat to a civilian population. It was important to resist the urge to use UN Secretariat reports to advance notions that had failed to gain any traction in intergovernmental processes.
He also pointed out that the annex of the Secretary-General report on ‘constraints on humanitarian access’ dealt with the issue of access in a partial manner, overlooked the possibility that there could be legitimate reasons for restricting access, and disregarded the fact that, regrettably, not all humanitarian actors performed in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. In that context, he recalled General Assembly resolution 46/182, which required that humanitarian assistance be provided with full respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States.