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By Tom O’Connor

Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations has outlined to Newsweek his country’s position on the ongoing war between Israel and Palestinian factions led by Hamas, expressing the need for a ceasefire and warning of regional instability if an already devastating conflict deepens further.  “This is an obligation that devolves on all member states to prevent an escalation of the conflict,” Ambassador Munir Akram told Newsweek. “We would have hoped that the conflict had not taken place, but it has, and now we have to stop it, to halt the fighting and to avoid the suffering that is happening and is likely to happen if this conflict goes on.”

While the Islamic Republic he represents, one of the world’s most populous countries and the only Muslim-majority nation to possess nuclear weapons, may be thousands of miles away from the frontlines of the Gaza Strip, Akram identified a direct connection between Pakistan and the Palestinian cause. This link was made all the more tangible by parallels he drew between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Indian-Pakistani dispute over the divided territory of Kashmir, to which Pakistanis commemorate a “Black Day” on Friday. With local health officials in Hamas-run Gaza now counting deaths in excess of 7,000 as a result of Israeli airstrikes since an unprecedented Hamas-led October 7 assault on Israel in which authorities said 1,400 people were killed, Akram argued that “this is not something that should be acceptable to any civilized nation or people and we oppose it, therefore we hope it would stop.” He added: “There is an additional layer of obligation on us as an Islamic country.”

“We feel that we have an obligation, an emotional commitment to Palestine and to the freedom of the Palestinian people,” Akram said. “It is a principle to which we are committed politically because of Kashmir. We are heavily invested in that principle, and we would like to see the triumph of that principle of self-determination.”… Akram said the “two situations are legally and politically linked; at the core of it is the principle of self-determination. People should have the right to determine for themselves what should be their political destiny.”

In the case of Kashmir, Akram said that “it has been explicitly stated” in U.N. Security Council Resolution 47 “that the future of Kashmir will be determined by its people through a free and fair plebiscite”a direct vote, which would be overseen by the U.N., but never came to be. As for the Israeli-Palestinian question, Akram said, “We have come to that principle somewhat circuitously through the creation of the two separate entities” in the early stages of the issue, though he asserted that the concept of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel has become “an accepted solution that is being advocated.”

“Beyond the principle of self-determination, there is also the reality of foreign occupation, which is also identical situations that both the Kashmiris and the Palestinians face,” Akram said. “And thirdly, of course, there is always the case where a colonial or foreign occupation power describes the resistance as terrorists, and that is also a common feature in these two situations.”

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