Thursday, October 6, 2022

At UNGA, PM Shehbaz urges world leaders to ‘act now’ against climate change

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NEW YORK: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday addressed the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session and stressed for collective action to deal with climate change that has caused cataclysmic floods in Pakistan, ARY News reported.

At the outset of his speech, the prime minister highlighted the massive devastation left behind by the deadly climate-induced floods and appealed for international help to deal with the catastrophe.

“I have come to explain first-hand scale and magnitude of the climate catastrophe,” he added.

“For 40 days and 40 nights, catastrophic flood poured on us. Even today, huge swathes of the country are still underwater. 33 million people including women and children are at high risk of health hazards. More than 1,500 people have been killed including 400 children.

The prime minister said that four million acres of crops have washed away as a result of devastating floods. He said that Pakistan has never seen a devastating example of global warming.

“Whatever happened to Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan. We emit less than 1% of the carbon emissions in the world and expect justice from the comity of nations.”

PM went on to say that the early estimates suggested that more than 13000 kms of metalled roads have been damaged, over 370 bridges have been swept away, a million homes have been destroyed and another million damaged.

“More than a million farm animals have been killed. Four Million acres of crops have been washed away, stripping the people of their breadbasket, and damage of an unimaginable scale,” he added.

He urged global leaders to come together and “act now” before it’s too late. “There will be no world left to fight over when nature strikes back.”

PM seeks peace with India

Talking about the regional situation and Kashmir dispute, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan seeking peace with all of its neighbors, including India. However, sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remained contingent upon a just and lasting solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

He said India’s relentless campaign of repression against Kashmiris continued to grow in scale and intensity. In pursuit of this heinous goal, New Delhi has ramped up its military deployments in occupied Jammu and Kashmir to 900,000 troops, thus making it the most militarized zone in the world.

“India’s ruthless campaign of aggression against Jammu & Kashmir with over 900,000 security personnel makes it the most militarised zones in the world.” India trying to turn the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu-majority territory, through illegal demographic changes,” he added.

He said Pakistani people have always stood by their Kashmiri people in complete solidarity, and would continue to do so until their right to self-determination was fully realized in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The prime minister assured the world that Pakistan remained consistent in its commitment to peace in South Asia.

“We in Pakistan remain consistent for peace in South Asia. We are neighbours. We need to learn with each other. We have fought wars. It is now up to us to resolve our problems and issues as peaceful neighbours.”

“We need to save our scarce resources to spend funds on education and health, rather than arms and ammunition. Both countries are armed to the teeth. War is not an option. Only peaceful dialogue can resolve our problems.”

“I am ready to sit across the table and speak to my Indian counterpart to find a peaceful solution to Kashmir and live as peaceful neighbours,” he added.

‘Release Afghan Reserves’

Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, the prime minister said that 30 million Afghans were left without a functional economy and banking system that allowed ordinary Afghans to make a living to be able to build a better future.

He told the gathering that Pakistan was working to encourage respect for the rights of Afghan girls and women to education and work.

“Yet, at this point, isolating the Afghan Interim Government could aggravate the suffering of the Afghan people, who are already destitute. Constructive engagement and economic support are more likely to secure a positive response.

A peaceful, prosperous and connected Afghanistan is in our collective interest,” the prime minister commented.

“We must avoid another civil war, rising terrorism, drug trafficking or new refugees – which none of Afghanistan’s neighbors are in a position to accommodate,” he said and urged the international community to respond in a positive way to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for $4.2 billion in humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan; release Afghanistan’s financial reserves, essential to revive its banking system.

War on terrorism

Prime Minister Shehbaz told world leaders that Pakistan strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

“Terrorism does not have a religion. It is based on dogma, fueled by poverty, deprivation, injustice and ignorance, and fanned by vested interests,” he commented.

Calling Pakistan a “principal victim of terrorism” he said over last two decades, the country had suffered more than 80,000 casualties and over $150 billion in economic losses due to terrorist attacks.

“Pakistan has paid an extremely high price in our war against terrorism in the last two decades. “Eighty thousand people have died and billions lost to our exchequer,” said PM.

The premier also discussed Islamophobia and urged UN to take ‘concrete measures’.

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