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UNITED NATIONS: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday underscored the need for establishing a monitoring mechanism for crimes committed against women and girls in territories under foreign occupation, including Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, so as to hold the occupation forces accountable.

“The most egregious atrocities and crimes against women and girls occur in situations of foreign occupation and suppression of the right to self-determination to peoples,” he said during a high-level debate in the UN Security Council on ‘Women, Peace and Security (WPS) towards the 25th Anniversary of Resolution 1325’.

That resolution provides for a range of measures aimed at women’s inclusion in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts.

The debate - held on the eve of International Women’s Day - was organised by Mozambique, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member Council for the month of March. Mozambique's Foreign Minister, Veronica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovu, presided,

In his remarks, FM Bilawal said, “The women, peace and security strategy will remain incomplete and unfulfilled so long as the acute dimension of the plight of women under foreign occupation is not addressed frontally and vigorously.”

“Above all,” he added, “occupation forces must be held accountable.”

The very object of violence in situation of foreign occupation was to suppress the civilian population, he said, adding, “This is manifested most vividly in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

FM Bilawal said the world was far from realizing the objectives of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, noting that women continued to be the principal victims of war and conflict. “We hear the cries of mothers, sisters and daughters – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, in Africa – suffering from the consequences of wars that were imposed on them,” he said, adding the strategy to prevent war was yet to be implemented, ease its suffering, establish accountability for the crimes.

The foreign minister expressed disappointment at the restrictions of education and work imposed on women and girls in Afghanistan and urged the de facto authorities to take steps towards resumption of female education and allow them to contribute to Afghan Society.

“The right of women and girls to access all levels of education and work is a fundamental right in keeping with Islamic injunctions,” he added.

“To ensure implementation of the WPS strategy, it is essential to establish a monitoring mechanism for crimes committed against women and girls in territories under foreign occupation, including Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, pointing out that improved monitoring was called for in the UNSC Resolution 1888 (2009).

Pakistan, he said, also supports implementation of the other measures in the Council’s resolutions, including deployment of Women Protection Advisors; a larger role for UN women peacekeepers; addressing the root causes of conflicts; a longer and equal role for women in the prevention of conflict, in the delivery of relief and recovery assistance and in forging lasting peace; and in the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

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