Washington – Pakistan has successfully dislodged terrorist sanctuaries from its territory, but now the principal threat is coming from beyond the country’s borders, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has told a United Nations committee.
Speaking in the General Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee on Wednesday, she said Pakistan was combating the challenge from abroad by implementing a comprehensive border management system along its western border.
“Terrorists and their evil acts have never shaken my country’s resolve and determination to continue the fight to defeat it,” Ambassador Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, said in a debate on terrorism. “The hard-earned stability that Pakistan enjoys today has been attained through a comprehensive approach against terrorism,” she added.
Elaborating on the implementation of the border management system, Ambassador Lodhi said it would enable Pakistan to prevent the cross-border movement of militants, stop the illegal smuggling of arms and check illicit drug trafficking while at the same time facilitate trade through improved border crossing facilities.
Also, she said no terrorist movement could be defeated by military means alone. On its part, Pakistan was following a “whole Society approach”, engaging community leaders, developing strong counter-narratives, enhanced regional cooperation and following international obligations.
In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi also underscored the need for addressing the root causes of terrorism, including well-acknowledged drivers of radicalization, which lie in political injustice, economic and social marginalization and exclusion and the breeding grounds spawned by long-festering and protracted conflicts.
“Chronic instability due to conflicts and military interventions has provided fertile ground to terrorists to recruit followers and spread their ideology,” she said, adding, “Terrorists and their supporters are obviously able to find safe havens in ungoverned conflict areas,” she said.
While the United Nations is focusing on improving technical measures, Pakistan firmly believes that the extremist ideology would never be defeated “unless we deal with the geopolitical dynamics which fuel terrorism.”
Pakistan, she said, backed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) position on a consensus-based Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT). The proposed Convention must be consistent with International Humanitarian Law and clearly differentiate between acts of terrorism and the legitimate struggles for self-determination of people living under foreign occupation.
“The malicious attempts by those who seek to manipulate the international consensus against terrorism to justify the suppression of people struggling for their right to self-determination must never be permitted to succeed,” Ambassador Lodhi told delegates from around the world.
“Without a holistic approach, we will be fighting only the symptoms and not the underlying causes of this deadly phenomenon.” The United Nations, the Pakistani envoy said, enjoyed a unique position to build consensus among member states to deal with the diverse challenges posed by terrorism and extremism. However, the capacity-building structure of the United Nations was increasingly donor-driven and does not cater adequately to the needs of member states.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Shaker, speaking for the OIC, said that terrorism, a flagrant violation of international law and international humanitarian law, also contradicts the principles of Islam. The scourge should not be associated with any religion, culture, theology or society. Further, he said, sovereignty and political independence of all States must be respected.