UNITED NATIONS    -   United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his “gratitude and admiration” for Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s outgoing ambassador to the UN, during her farewell call on him, and he went on to say that she did her country proud, according to informed sources.

The UN chief, accompanied by his Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, came into the waiting room to walk the Pakistan envoy to his 38th-floor office, the sources said. Ambassador Lodhi was accompanied by Tipu Usman, a political counselor at the Pakistan Mission.

Ambassador Lodhi is stepping down on October 31 after leading the Pakistan Mission to the UN, which she also calls the voice of Kashmir, for four and a half years.

Expressing his sadness over the completion of her eventful tenure, Guterres said, “You represented the country in a remarkable way. You were engaged in all issues at the UN, not just those involving Pakistan.  That’s how you elevated the profile of Pakistan here.”

“It’s challenging for a diplomat but you managed it so well. Your country should be proud of your work,” the sources quoted the UN chief as saying at the half an hour meeting.

On her part, Ambassador Lodhi briefed the secretary-general on the grim situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir that continues to pose a threat to peace and security, according to the sources.

The military lockdown on the disputed state, she said, continues and the plight of the Kashmiri people worsens day by day -- their human rights abused with impunity.

In this environment, the Pakistan envoy urged the UN chief to play his role and keep speaking out on the human rights situation there. Pakistan, she said, remained very concerned about the situation, especially because it believed India would unleash even more repressive measures to suppress the Kashmiri people’s will and sentiments.

As such she underscored the need for the UN to play a preventive role in this fraught situation.

Ambassador Lodhi also underlined that Pakistan’s vision for peace in the neighbourhood. This, she said, was evident from Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process and the role the Prime Minister Imran Khan was playing to defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In an earlier interview with APP, Ambassador Lodhi said, “It has been an honour to serve the country and I am grateful for being given this opportunity to do so for over four and a half years.”

“Being Pakistan’s Ambassador to the world has been a challenging assignment but it has enriched my experience and enabled me to understand and take advantage of the opportunities multilateral organisations offer to enhance the country’s image and increase its global footprint.”

“Representing Pakistan at the world’s most important multilateral forum was both a privilege and an enormous responsibility.”

Earlier, Ambassador Lodhi also paid a farewell call on the United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, who also appreciated the role she played at the UN, saying she would be much missed.