United Nations urged to stop state-sponsored terrorism and religious discrimination
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the international community on Thursday to act immediately to stop state-sponsored terrorism and religious discrimination in South Asia.
In a virtual address to a United Nations meeting in New York, the foreign minister highlighted the hateful political rhetoric and incitement to violence against vulnerable ethnic and religious groups practiced in Pakistan’s neighborhood.
Such practices, he said, had “resulted in discriminatory citizenship laws, attacks on places of worship and repeated state-sponsored pogroms against minorities.”
Mr Qureshi also sought attention to “the brutal occupation and suppression of peoples struggling for their right to self-determination” in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir, though he did not name India as the perpetrator.
He called upon the international community to recommit to the fundamental principles of human rights guaranteeing substantive equality for all and proposed “forging a global alliance against the rise and spread of Islamophobic as well as other violent nationalist and racist groups.”
The foreign minister made these remarks at a special meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on “Reimagining Equality: Eliminating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination for all in the Decade of Action for SDGs”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the president of South Africa and the vice-president of Costa Rica also addressed the meeting on Thursday.
The special meeting was convened under Pakistan’s presidency of the ECOSOC and was aimed at addressing the linkage between structural racism, discrimination, inequalities and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — with a special focus on building those inter-linkages that help in a better response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts.
The foreign minister pointed out that the pandemic had disproportionately impacted minorities, making them more vulnerable to extreme poverty and unemployment, as well as higher rates of infection.
He urged the international community to address the structural drivers of discrimination, including those rooted in the history and legacy of colonialism.
Pakistan’s Ambassador at UN Munir Akram opened the meeting as the council’s current president, reminding the participants that the Covid-19 crisis had revealed existing inequalities in unequal access to food, education, health, housing, as well as access to justice. “It has also incited xenophobia and discrimination,” he added.
He noted that reducing inequalities was at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a stand-alone goal (SDG10). “Leaving no one behind is also the overarching principle for this universal framework,” he said.
Ambassador Akram noted that during the 75th anniversary of the United Nations last September, world leaders committed to addressing the root causes of inequalities.
“Solidarity and cooperation among countries, societies, communities, and individual citizens is the only possible way to eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all,” he said.
The Pakistani envoy also stressed the need to make today’s economic and financial models more “people-centered” and aimed at serving humanity. “Systems that perpetuate racism and inequalities must be dismantled,” he said.
“We have reached a tipping point in which economic, social and environmental inequalities are intersecting in intolerable ways,” he warned. “Time is of the essence; I hope our session today will build the momentum for equality and an end to racism and discrimination.”