UNITED NATIONS - Pakistan has called for an "effective" narrative to offset the "fatal attraction" of some terrorist groups for disaffected youth in the Middle East and beyond that historically-oppressed Muslims can regain their rights only through violent means.

"Military and police action can deal with the symptoms of the phenomena, but not the disease," Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN, told the UN Security Council during a high-level debate on victims of attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious grounds in the region, chaired by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

"This requires a more comprehensive approach – one that offers a path for the constructive involvement of youth in the economic, social and political life of their societies and states, she said. "Most importantly, it requires an effective and thoughtful response to the narrative of many of these extremist groups: that Muslims have been historically oppressed and can regain their rights and freedoms only through violent means."

The Pakistani envoy made it clear that the current chaos in the Middle East will not be overcome by foreign intervention. "The sovereignty and the territorial integrity of countries will have to be fully respected," she emphatically stated.

"Ultimately, durable peace can be restored through national reconciliation in each affected state, encouraged and promoted with regional and global support."

"The current chaos in the Middle East contrasts sharply with its history and ethos," Ambassador Lodhi said. The Middle east, she said, is a cradle of major religions and civilisations, replete with examples of what true Islam preaches - love, brotherhood, tolerance and humanity.

As such, the Pakistan envoy said the recent escalation of violence and terrorism in the Middle East was an affront to humanity and all civilised norms. Deeply offensive and unacceptable were attempts by some vested interests to blame Islam as the source of the current chaos. It was clear that disorder and the collapse of State authority across North Africa and the Middle East had turned the Arab Spring into a “brutal winter”, Ambassador Lodhi said.

The partial or complete breakdown of State authority in Iraq and Syria had allowed the rise of violent groups, such as Daesh, inured by extremist ideologies and radical agendas, she said. “The quest for power by cynical and brutal leaders, wrapped in religious cloaks, is not surprising in the circumstances.”

"What is surprising and alarming is the fatal attraction of some of these groups for disaffected and alienated youth within and outside the Middle East."

Military and police action could deal with the symptoms of the phenomenon, but not the disease, Ambassador Lodhi said. That required a more comprehensive approach, one that offered a path for the constructive involvement of youth in the economic, social and political life of their societies and States.

Most importantly, it required an effective and thoughtful response to the narrative of many extremist groups: that Muslims had been historically oppressed and could regain their rights and freedoms only though violent means.

"This narrative will not be neutralised by solemn declarations alone," she said, while calling for "genuine efforts" to resolve the underlying political problems: among them a solution for the Palestine issue and other conflicts raging across the Levant and beyond.

"The Security Council can contribute to restoring peace and defeating the extremist and violent groups by helping to evolve a global consensus on the principles and structure for the solution of the challenges confronted in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and, most importantly, in Palestine," the Pakistani envoy said. "In this, the Council cannot but adhere to the principles of the UN Charter and its own unimplemented Resolutions"

Opening the debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said millions of lives in the Middle East – and the very social fabric of entire countries – are at stake.

“I am deeply concerned about the grave dangers faced by minorities in parts of the Middle East. Currently, thousands of civilians are at the mercy of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (ISIL), also called Daesh,” Ban said.

“Its fighters kill systematically members of ethnic and religious minorities, those who do not share their misinterpretation of Islam and anyone who opposes their apocalyptic conception. They prey on women and children with unspeakable brutality. They destroy religious and cultural symbols that are the heritage of humanity,” the secretary-general stressed. The acts have spread to Syria, Iraq and now Libya and even in Yemen, where the bomb attacks perpetrated against mosques last week have further fuelled sectarian violence.

Condemning all acts of persecution, regardless of the reason - religious, ethnic, national, racial or other, the UN chief urged all parties to spare innocent lives.

Meanwhile, abuses in counter-terrorism are morally wrong and strategically counterproductive, Ban said, adding that combating terrorism never absolves governments of their responsibility to honour human rights.