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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reiterated its principled position on the Ukrainian issue and explained the reasons behind its decision to abstain in the vote on the resolution in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to condemn Russia’s attempts to annex four regions of Ukraine.

“While abstaining in the UNGA, Pakistan reiterated its principled position on the Ukrainian issue,” Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in response to a question from Business Recorder.

The resolution was supported by 143 countries, while 35 states, including Pakistan, China, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and South Africa abstained from Wednesday’s vote. Five countries including Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria, and Nicaragua rejected the vote.

In the UNGA on Wednesday, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram explained the reasons behind Pakistan’s abstaining in the vote on the draft resolution in document A/ES-11/L.5.

He said that Pakistan fully supports the resolution’s call for respect for the principle of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States – a principle which also applies to Ukraine, as to the other Member States. “States cannot be torn apart by the use of force. These principles must be consistently and universally respected,” he added.

In the case of the referenda mentioned in the draft resolution, he added that Pakistan acknowledges Ukraine’s complex history and the provisions of the Minsk Agreement.

However, under international law, he explained that the right of self-determination applies to peoples who are under foreign or colonial domination, and those who have not yet exercised the right to self-determination, as in the case of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We look forward to seeing similar concern and condemnation about the attempts by India to formalize its illegal annexation of the internationally recognized disputed territory of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in complete violation of international law and relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir,” he stated.

Moreover, he added that the exercise of the right to self-determination should be conducted in an environment free of military occupation and under impartial auspices, preferably under the supervision of the United Nations.

“?Pakistan, therefore, endorses the basic principle reflected in the draft resolution that referenda conducted for peoples and regions which are part of a sovereign State and in an environment which is not free and not under impartial auspices, are ultra vires and legally unacceptable,” he added.

“Unfortunately, the draft resolution contains several provisions which go beyond declaring the referenda null and void and includes provisions which my delegation is unable to endorse,” the Pakistan ambassador said.

These are: One, the resolution recalls resolutions (68/262 of 27 March 2014, ES-11/1of 2 March 2022, and ES-11/2 of 24 March 2022) in PP3 on all of which Pakistan abstained; Two, the co-sponsors of the draft resolution have not accepted proposals for an immediate peaceful resolution of the conflict.

“My delegation believes that irrespective of the origin of the conflict, the highest priority, at this moment, is the immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of a peaceful dialogue – through direct negotiations, mediation or other peaceful means – to resolve the causes of the conflict and restore peace and security in Ukraine. Unless we halt the conflict, there is every likelihood that it will escalate further, with consequences that could be devastating for the entire world,” he added.

Earlier in March this year, Pakistan has also abstained from the vote on the UNGA resolution which had demanded an immediate end to its military operations in Ukraine.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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