A maiden visit to UNGA | BY Muhammad Zahid Rifat


A maiden visit to UNGA

THE United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)’s 77th session commenced in New York, US, on 20 September and continued for a week till 26 September 2022.

More than 140 Heads of States, Governments and representatives were there to participate in the UNGA deliberations as a number of Heads of State and Government addressed the forum deliberating on matters of bilateral and international interests and concerns.

Pakistan was represented at the UNGA this time by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, this being his first visit there ever since he had assumed power in April 2022.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by Defence Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb among others.

The Prime Minister addressed the UNGA as scheduled on September 23 and put forth Pakistan’s case quite convincingly and strongly while highlighting plight and miseries of the large number of unprecedented flash floods and heaviest rains affected people, plainly telling that the massive devastation and destruction in most parts of the country due to floods and rains was the most adverse impact of the climate change, ongoing relief, rehabilitation efforts as the one third of the country still was under flood water according to the country’ s available limited resources and emphatically called for continued excessive flow of relief goods for the flood victims from friendly countries and international humanitarian organizations.

Planes loads of relief goods from more and more countries were landing at Islamabad and Karachi airports quite frequently but Pakistan needs much more help and assistance from the international community and organizations for continuing massive relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the infrastructure in the flood-hit areas and also saving the flood-hit people from onrushing winter season, the prime minister said adding quite rightly that the flood-affected people were now exposed to epidemics arising from water born diseases and they also needed required medicines for recovering these killing diseases.

The UNGA was told that more than 3 crore people including women and children have perished in the heaviest ever rains and floods onrushing water which had washed away large number of villages, demolished and destroyed thousands of houses and massively uprooting trees and infrastructure facilities in all the four provinces mostly in Sindh and Balochitan.

Pakistan was paying heavy price for the doings of the developed countries in the context of emission of gas causing heat wave, the Prime Minister said warning the world at large that if nothing was done in concrete terms, the heat wave menace would not remain confined to his country and move onwards to other countries sooner or later.

While dilating on his country’s relations with other countries, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif quite rightly pointed out that Pakistan was a peace loving country and believed in having cordial relations with all countries particularly its neighbours including India.

Offering the olive branch to India, the Prime Minister went on to say there can be no durable peace and stability in the region unless the lingering Kashmir dispute is resolved peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions by granting the birth right of self-determination to the oppressed, suppressed and struggling people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as huge occupying Indian security forces are continuing their brutalities and atrocities and killing innocent unarmed Kashmiri youths everyday.

The Prime Minister further pointedly stated that India should reverse its unilateral action of 5 August 2019 ending special status of the occupied territory and continuously persisting with measures to change demography of occupied Jammu and Kashmir in an attempt to turn Muslims majority into minority by issuing millions of fake domicile certificates to Hindus and settling them there in flagrant violation of all international laws.

While discussing the emerging menace of Islamophobia . in India and other countries around the world, the Prime Minister pointedly and quite emphatically stated that officially sponsored campaign of oppression against India’s 200 million Muslims was the worst manifestation of state terrorism being undertaken by Indian government in furtherance of Islamphobia.

The world body and its member states should take concrete measures to combat Islamphobia and promoting interfaith harmony as the UNGA had only early this year had adopted a resolution which was moved by Pakistan with support of other Islamic countries declaring 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, the UNGA forum was rightly reminded.

As regards Afghanistan, the Prime Minister said that peace and stability in Pakistan was linked with durable and lasting peace and security in neighbouring Afghanistan, all should join hands with Pakistan to avoid another civil war, rising terrorism, drug trafficking or flow of new Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries.

While calling for immediate release of frozen funds of Afghanistan, he went on to call for greater humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan helping them to avert looming threats of hunger and health crisis.

The UNGA was further told that isolating the Afghan interim government could only add to suffering of Afghan people who are already destitute and that Pakistan was engaged in encouraging due respect for the rights of Afghan girls and women to education and work.

It is worth mentioning here pointedly that the Prime Minister was there in New York for five days on his maiden visit for addressing UNGA and availed the opportunity to interact face to face with a number of Heads of States and Governments who had gathered for UNGA session and apprised them about the havoc which heavy floods and rains had wrecked on large number of people in Pakistan, urging and exhorting them for more and more help and assistance for relief, rehabilitation of large number of people rendered homeless by unprecedented rains and floods caused by heat-wave, overcoming huge losses to the standing crops and reconstruction of massively destroyed and uprooted infrastructure in flood and rains hit areas as early as possible.

It was good to note that the Heads of State and Government as well as chiefs of international financial and humanitarian institutions and organizations with whom the Prime Minister interacted on the sidelines of the UNGA expressed their sympathy and solidarity with flood-hit people, assured in most cases of their assistance for helping in relief, rehabilitation of the suffering people and infrastructure facilities reconstruction and also for economic stability to the maximum extent possible in quite positive and appreciable manner.

The Prime Minister’s maiden visit can easily be termed as quite successful, productive and result-oriented despite its being his first visit there.

The prime minister who was visiting flood-hit areas across the country could have avoided going to New York and address UNGA session virtually but then he would not have got the opportunity to interact with a large number of world leaders at the UNGA as he did during his stay there to say the least.

Keep these good, positive and profitable activities of yours going on Mr Prime Minister in the right direction for welfare and well-being of the people at large without any political and other considerations and working for stable national economy.

—The writer is Deputy Controller (News) (R), Radio Pakistan, Islamabad, based in Lahore.


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