Pakistan calls on UN chief to urgently hold donors conference

PM Shehbaz says delay can spell huge consequences for our economy and people: Pakistan wants ‘good, warm’ ties with US: No peace with India until Kashmir is resolved: Calls for unfreezing Afghan assets 

By: News Desk
Published: 09:22 AM, 25 Sep, 2022
Pakistan calls on UN chief to urgently hold donors conference
Caption: File photo.
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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has urged the United Nations Secretary General to urgently call a donors conference to generate funds for rehabilitation of flood-ravaged people of Pakistan, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Sunday.

The prime minister was chairing a meeting via video link of his cabinet ministers and officials for an update on the flood situation in Pakistan.

Shehbaz Sharif told the participants said the initial estimate of losses to Pakistan’s economy as a result of the three-month flooding disaster was $30 billion, adding that he had requested UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urgently hold a donors’ conference.

The prime minister told the meeting that he, during the recent session of the United Nations General Assembly, had held meetings with important leaders of the world including Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

He said that during his meetings with the world leaders, he had informed them about the disaster caused by floods in Pakistan and also the relief operations and rehabilitative efforts being carried out by the government.

He also informed the meeting about the telephonic conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

He further told the meeting that the world leaders had been informed about the disastrous effects of climate change on Pakistan and also the Pakistan’s approach to climate change. The prime minister further said that the world leaders had expressed sympathy and condolence over the damage caused by floods in Pakistan and assured with full sincerity of help.

He further said that the secretary general of the United Nations assured that a donors’ conference would also be organised for the rehabilitation of the flood victims in Pakistan.

He also said that during the meeting with Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the matter of taking help from the World Food Programme for feeding children in flood-affected areas came under discussion.

“With the aid of the international community and the efforts of the Pakistani institutions, we will come out of this difficulty, God willing!” the prime minister expressed his optimism.

He was also briefed by the officials of the National Flood Response Coordination Centre regarding the rehabilitative works in the flood-affected areas across the country.

Saving future generations

Earlier, in an interview with American news agency Associated Press, Shehbaz reiterated the call for galvanizing of the global efforts to save the future generations from the worsening climatic- induced consequences that led to flood devastation in Pakistan. He said he came to the United Nations to tell the world that “tomorrow, this tragedy can fall on some other country.”

He urged the world leaders to stand together and raise resources “to build resilient infrastructure, to build adaptation, so that our future generations are saved.”

He said the initial estimate of losses to Pakistan’s economy as a result of the three-month flooding disaster was $30 billion, adding that he had requested UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urgently hold a donors’ conference.

The prime minister further said that the impact of climatic change on Pakistan was immense. More than 1,600 people had died, including hundreds of children. Crops on 4 million acres have been washed away. Millions of houses have been damaged or completely destroyed, and life savings had disappeared in the devastating floods triggered by monsoon rains, he said. “Thousands of kilometers of roads have been smashed, washed away — railway bridges, railway track, communications, underpasses, transport. All this requires funds,” the prime minister said, reiterating that they needed funds to provide livelihood to their people.

Third-party audit

He said Pakistan was responsible for less than 1% of the carbon emissions that cause global warming. “We are a victim of something we have nothing to do with,” he added.

To a question, he said even before the floods began in mid-June, Pakistan was facing serious challenges from grain shortages and skyrocketing crude oil prices sparked mainly by Russian-Ukraine conflict. The skyrocketing prices had put the import of oil beyond their capacity and with the damage and destruction from the massive flooding — solutions have become ‘extremely difficult,’ he added.

Shehbaz said Pakistan had a very robust, transparent mechanism already in place to ensure that all aid items were delivered to people in need. In addition, he said, “I will ensure third-party audit of every penny through international well-reputed companies.”

He further informed that he met top officials from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and appealed for a moratorium on loan repayments and deferment of other conditions until the flood situation improves. “They sounded very supportive,” he said, stressing that a delay “can spell huge consequences” — both for the economy and for the Pakistani people.

The prime minister said that Pakistan might have to import about a million tons of wheat because of the destruction of farmland. The country also needed fertilizer because factories involved in their production were closed, he added.

Ties with India

About ties with India, Shehbaz Sharif reiterated that India has to understand that unless and until the burning issue of Kashmir was resolved through peaceful talks … ‘we will not be able to live in peace.’

Taliban in Afghanistan

About Afghanistan, the prime minister said Taliban had “a golden opportunity to ensure peace and progress” for the people by adhering to the Doha Agreement. He also stressed that Afghan assets should be unfrozen.

Ties with United States

The prime minister also highlighted that Pakistan desired “good, warm relations” with the US. “What the previous government did, in this behalf, was most uncalled for, was detrimental to Pakistan’s sovereign interests,” he said, adding it was definitely not in line with what ordinary Pakistanis would believe and expect.

Reporter: Awais Kiyani