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India asks UN to focus on peace-building to protect civilians


United Nations: In a bid to protect civilians from violence during armed conflicts, India asked UN to focus on peace-building missions rather than focusing on transitory peacemaking operations.

In his first address to the Security Council, India’s newly appointed Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said on Tuesday, “Efforts at peace building should be initiated right at the beginning and the cause of the armed conflict addressed through national reconciliation and inclusive political processes giving all sections of society a stake in peaceful co-existence.”

Speaking at a debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict, Akbaruddin said the world body should “consider disaggregating the complex multidimensional nature of the UN peacekeeping mandates, and address issues confronting protection of civilians in armed conflict situations through focused peace-building activities so that the transition to a post-conflict society can be sustainable.” Because protection of civilians is primarily a national responsibility, he said that “contribution to national capacity building rather than intervention mechanisms should be the priority.”

Invoking the heroism of Gurbachan Singh Salaria, an Indian Army captain who was killed during the UN operations in Congo during the 1960s, Akbaruddin, said however that peacekeepers have and will continue to rise to the defence of civilians when they are in danger.

“Even though the notion of ‘Protection of Civilians’ was not part of the mandate” of the UN peacekeeping operations then, Akbaruddin said, Salaria and about 45 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice to protect civilians.

Salaria of the Gurkha Rifles led his company in December 1961 against the secessionist Katanga forces loyal to Moise Kapenda Tshombe, who were on a mission to encircle the UN headquarters in Elisabethville, now known as Lubumbashi. With bayonets, khukris and hand-grenades, they charged the much large force of Katanga gendarmes routing them. Tshombe, a supporter of Belgian colonialists, opposed the UN and its peacekeeping operations to restore peace in newly independent Congo.

Salaria was posthumously awarded India’s highest military honor, the Param Vir Chakra. Akbaruddin pointed out that it took the UN 35 years to recognise his sacrifice with a Dag Hammarskjold Medal.

Akbaruddin reinforced the case for the Council consulting with troop-contributing countries. “As a developing country with years of peacekeeping experience, we feel frequent and regular consultation between the Council, the Secretariat and Troop Contributing Countries will enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the Council in protecting civilians,” he added.

The lack of consultations hurts “the troop contributing countries who put their troops lives at risk in the service of the UN,” the host countries, the Council and, ultimately, the entire UN.

Last month, the Council acknowledged that the consultation process with troop contributors was flawed and called “importance of substantive, representative and meaningful exchanges.” (IANS)(Arul Lois)

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Iran invites Pakistan to join Chabahar project with India

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Iran has invited Pakistan to join Chabahar port project
  • It is a very crucial port of great importance
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have already signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has invited Pakistan to participate in the Chabahar Port project that connects India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, a leading Pakistani daily reported on Tuesday.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The move may be seen as Zarif’s bid to allay concerns here over the Indian involvement in the Iranian port, Dawn online reported. The Iranian minister also, meanwhile, extended the invitation to China.

“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday, according to the daily.

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

Zarif had earlier held bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif and addressed a trade conference. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

He also said that Gwadar Port and Chabahar Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of deprived Eastern and South-eastern Iran and South Western Pakistan. “We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that,” Zarif said.

Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons

He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to “encircle Pakistan … strangulate anybody”, adding that Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran.

Zarif likened Iran’s relations with India to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Islamabad as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran.” IANS