Pakistan bearing the brunt of climate crisis: PM Shehbaz
Pakistan bearing the brunt of climate crisis, says PM Shehbaz
UNITED NATIONS (Dunya News) – Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that Pakistan is being severely affected due to the environmental problems and urged the world to come forward with concrete action to help the flood affected people of Pakistan.
Addressing the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, he said that floods have wreaked havoc in Pakistan which left 30.3 million people including women and children homeless, while killing more than 1500 people.
“Over 1 million animals have been killed while the floods swept away around 370 bridges,” he said.
Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan is not an example of the dark and destructive effects of global warming but the life in Pakistan has changed forever, adding, “I have visited every affected area and the people of Pakistan ask why this disaster happened and what can and should be done but the undeniable fact is that what is happening is because of us.”
He said our glaciers are melting fast, forests are burning, temperatures have exceeded 50 degrees and we are now experiencing an unusually deadly monsoon.
PM Shehbaz further sensitizing the world about the devastating super floods said that Pakistan’s treasury and people were paying the dual cost of climate injustice, high global warming and inaction despite emitting less than 1% of greenhouse gases.
“It is high time we took a pause from the preoccupations of the 20th century to return to the challenges of the 21st. The entire definition of national security has changed today, and unless the leaders of the world come together to act now behind minimum agreed agenda, there will be no earth to fight wars over. Nature will be fighting back, and for that humanity is no match”, the Prime Minister said while addressing 77th session of the UN General Assembly.
“Even today, huge swathes of the country are still under-water, 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,” he added.
The Prime Minister said 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.
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.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan had never seen a more stark and devastating example of the impact of Global Warming. “Life in Pakistan has changed forever,” he added.
“Through this calamity, I have visited, and spent time in every corner of my devastated country. People in Pakistan ask why, why has this happened to them? When global warming rips apart whole families and an entire country at this ferocious speed, it is time to ask why, and time to ask not what can be done but what MUST be done,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister said, “The undeniable, and inconvenient truth is that this calamity has not been triggered by anything we have done. Our glaciers are melting fast, our forests are burning, and our heat waves have crossed 53 degree Celsius, making us the hottest place on the planet.”
“Now, we live through an unprecedented monster monsoon. It is literally a monsoon on steroids, as the UN Secretary General described it most befittingly. One thing is very clear: What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister quoted the UN Secretary General as candidly saying that “hotspots like Pakistan fall in the ten most climate-vulnerable list of countries, but emit less than one percent of the greenhouse gasses that are burning our planet. It is therefore, entirely reasonable to expect some approximation of justice for this loss and damage, not to mention building back better with resilience. Clearly, the time for talk about actions has passed.”
The Prime Minister thanked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who visited Pakistan and spent time with climate refugees, with mothers and children in the tents, adding, the UN Secretary General repeatedly assured Pakistan of his support and assistance.
“At this point, I want to thank each and every one of the countries that have sent help, and their representatives to Pakistan to stand in solidarity with us in our most trying hour. On behalf of my nation, I once again express my sincerest appreciation to all of them,” he added.
The prime minister told the world body that Pakistan looked for peace with all of its neighbours, including India. However, the sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remained contingent upon a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
“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 5th August 2019, to change the internationally recognized “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 remarked.
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 said 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.
The prime minister assured the world that Pakistan remained consistent in its commitment to peace in South Asia. “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.
Coming to 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 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 commented.
He said being a neighbor, Pakistan had a vital stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan as the country had also led the humanitarian efforts to help the Afghan people.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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 our borders, sponsored and financed by its regional adversary but the country was determined to defeat such cross-border terrorism.