Pakistan urges harmony, end to regional hostility in the Middle East

New York, 27th January 2016

At the UN Pakistan urged bringing regional hostility and rivalry to an end in the Middle East, casting this as essential to defeat violent extremism and terrorism there.

Speaking in the Security Council debate on the ‘Middle East including Palestine” Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Dr. Maleeha Lodhi said that the new and revived tensions, polarizing the region were toxic not only for the countries already engulfed in conflict but could encompass other regional states and lead to widening turmoil.

That is why, she told the 15-member UN body, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had undertaken a mediatory mission as Pakistan’s contribution to promote harmony in the region.

The Pakistani envoy said that the wider wars across the region, while rooted in divisions that span centuries, have been ignited by more recent foreign interventions, in Iraq and elsewhere. “The foundations of the old order in the region has been eroded, giving way to disorder spread by state and non-state actors such as Daish”, she added.

Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistan believes that a stable order should emerge from the present chaos in West Asia and the Levant. To this end, “a consistent dialogue is essential between all the regional states, with the support of the major powers.”

Such a dialogue, she argued, can be promoted under the auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation. It can help to promote fair and durable solutions to the conflicts and disputes in the region, and build consensus on collective counter terrorism actions, based on the principles of the UN Charter and the divinely ordained unity of the world's Muslims – the Ummah, she added.

Dr Maleeha Lodhi also stressed that “the fires that have ignited across the region in recent years – in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond – cannot eclipse the Palestine question, nor render a solution for its enduring tragedy less urgent or essential.”

She said that for a half-century of occupation, Palestine was repeatedly promised statehood. But as these promises never materialized this set the stage for its prolonged tragedy and agony. “The political injustices and human suffering of the Palestinian people have progressively intensified,” said the Ambassador.

This, she argued, is one of the core causes of the rise and spread of popular anger and alienation across the Arab and Muslim world. “Extremist ideologies and violent groups in the Middle East will be difficult to defeat until the essence of their narrative – the injustices against Muslim peoples, especially the Palestinians – is justly and effectively addressed.”

Ambassador Lodhi said that Israel’s inflexible policy, including the continued take over of more and more Palestinian land for illegal settlements, was increasingly making a two-state solution more and more difficult to achieve.

She also reiterated Pakistan’s support for an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian State, based on the pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Without this, she concluded, there will be no peace or stability in the Holy Land.