Geneva, 17 March 2022 (TDI): Pakistan has dismissed India’s claim that Jammu and Kashmir are an integral part of the country, claiming that the UN identifies the region as “disputed territory” and that it is depicted on all of the UN’s maps.

At the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister, Shireen Mazari argued, among other things, that India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir has harmed women and children’s rights.

“Women are being targeted by Indian occupying soldiers, who have used rape as a weapon of war and have attacked women and children with pellet guns.

“We cannot choose where the standards of human rights apply,” Mazari said via video link to the delegates from around the world, many of whom were ministers.

She went on to say that the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was the primary worldwide intergovernmental entity committed only to the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

She highlighted that “We cannot be selective in where the standards of human rights apply. And here I would be at a loss if I do not mention the fact that the rising tide of Islamophobia in the West discriminates and denies them opportunities to Muslim women especially because they are denied education and health if they merely cover their heads.”

This discrimination, she argued, must also be addressed by the international community. She stated that Pakistan was resolute in its belief that economic progress, long-term development, peace, and prosperity could only be achieved via female empowerment and gender equality.

“We remain committed to ensuring our girls and women’s equal involvement in decision-making and public life by fostering an enabling and safe environment.”

She credited the CSW for advancing women’s rights, chronicling the realities of women’s lives around the world, and helping to shape global norms on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“Islam ensures women’s rights in every sphere of their life,” Dr. Mazari remarked, quoting: “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women” (Surah al-Baqarah).

“We hope that this will prove to be a forum for constructive debate,” the Minister said, “and we assure you of Pakistan’s steadfast commitment to assist and collaborate with the Commission in the pursuit of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

“Pakistan has also adopted a number of key international commitments to gender equality and human rights,” she added, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Sustainable Development Goals as examples.

“We believe that the Sustainable Development Goals, notably Goal 5, have the potential to revolutionize women’s lives by guaranteeing gender equality and empowerment in all aspects of life.”

She stated that the Pakistani Constitution protected essential rights to both men and women, including protection from discrimination, exploitation, and marginalization, as well as equal rights and opportunities to thrive and live a healthy and prosperous life.