PM Shehbaz urges justice for Pakistan battered by climate-induced floods

Shehbaz rings alarm over climate change: Says Kashmir solution is a must for regional peace Stresses Kabul should not be abandoned

By: News Desk
Published: 10:38 PM, 23 Sep, 2022
PM Shehbaz urges justice for Pakistan battered by climate-induced floods
Caption: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.–AFP
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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has felt strong concerns for the flood-hit people of Pakistan, 24NewsHD TV channel reported on Friday.  

Addressing the High-Level General Debate of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly said his heart is beating with the calamity-hit people. 

PM Shehbaz Sharif set off alarm bells, saying climate disasters will not remain confined to his country, in the wake of floods that have devastated the South Asian giant.

"What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan. Life has changed forever," he said.

Shehbaz Sharif drew attention to the injustice inherent in the crisis, with his country at "ground zero" of climate change but responsible for less than one per cent of carbon emissions.

He said: "Why are my people paying the price of such high global warming through no fault of their own? Nature has unleashed her fury on Pakistan without looking at our carbon footprint, which is next to nothing." 

The PM said: "It is therefore entirely reasonable to expect some approximation of justice for this loss and damage, not to mention building back better with resilience," he said, adding his voice to growing calls among developing countries for financial compensation from rich polluters.

Sensitising the world about the devastating floods in Pakistan the premier said: “As I stand here today to tell the story of my country, Pakistan, my heart and mind have not been able to leave home. No words can describe the shock we are living through or how the face of the country lies transformed.”

 “I have come here to explain first-hand, the scale and magnitude of this climate catastrophe that has pushed one-third of my country underwater in a super storm that no one has seen in living memory,” he added.

He said that for 40 days and 40 nights a biblical flood poured down on us, smashing centuries of weather records, challenging everything we knew about the disaster, and how to manage it. 

He continued:  “Even today, huge swathes of the country are still underwater, submerged in an ocean of human suffering. In this ground zero of climate change, 33 million people, including women and children are now at high risk from health hazards, with 650,000 women giving birth in makeshift tarpaulins.

 “More than 1500 of my people have perished in the great flood, including over 400 children. Far more are in peril from disease and malnutrition. As we speak, millions of climate migrants are still looking for dry land to pitch their tents on, with heart-breaking losses to their families, their futures and their livelihoods."

The Prime Minister said the early estimates suggested that more than 13,000km of 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.

The prime minister told the world body that Pakistan’s urgent priority right was to ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of destitution and hunger. To enable any such policy momentum, Pakistan needed a stable external environment, he added.

The prime minister said Islamabad looked for peace with all of its neighbours, including India. However, sustainable peace in South Asia is linked to the permanent solution to the Indian-Occupied Kashmir.

He added: “At the heart of this longstanding dispute lies the denial of the inalienable right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination. India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5 2019, to change the internationally recognised “disputed” status of Jammu and Kashmir and to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory further undermined the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions.”

He said India’s relentless campaign of repression against Kashmiris had 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.

“The serial brutalization of Kashmiris takes many forms: extrajudicial killings, incarceration, custodial torture and death, indiscriminate use of force, deliberate targeting of Kashmiri youth with pellet guns, and ‘collective punishments’ imposed on entire communities,” the prime minister told the General Assembly.

Prime Minister Shehbaz said India was seeking to turn the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu-majority territory, through illegal demographic changes.

 “Millions of fake “domicile certificates” have been issued to non-Kashmiris; Kashmiri land and properties are being seized; electoral districts have been gerrymandered, and over 2.5 million non-Kashmiri illegal voters fraudulently registered. All this is in blatant violation of Security Council resolutions and international law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention,” he told the 193-member world body.

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

“India must take credible steps to create enabling environment for constructive engagement. It should demonstrate its sincerity and willingness, to walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing its illegal steps of 15 August 2019, and ending forth-with, the process of demographic change,” he remarked and expressed the hope that the UNGA and Secretary-General would play their rightful role in urging India to implement the long pending UN resolutions.

About the Afghanistan situation, the prime minister said 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 said Pakistan would like to see an “Afghanistan which is at peace with itself and the world, and which respects and nurtures all its citizens, without regard to gender, ethnicity and religion.”

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 said.

He urged the international community to respond 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.

Prime Minister Shehbaz told the General Assembly that Pakistan shared the key concern of the international community regarding the threat posed by the major terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan, especially ISIL-K and TTP as well as Al-Qaida, ETIM and IMU.

However, he said “they all need to be dealt with comprehensively, with the support and cooperation of the Interim Afghan authorities. In turn, the international community should address Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian needs.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz said told the gathering of 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.

He said Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for the past two decades and sacrificed 80,000 lives to the scourge menace and over $150 billion in economic losses due to terrorist attacks.

He said Pakistan’s armed forces, with the support of its people, had broken the back of terrorism within Pakistan.

He said Pakistan yet continued to suffer terrorist attacks from across the borders, sponsored and financed by its regional adversary but the country was determined to defeat the terrorists.