The Pakistan government took “swift and effective” action to deal with the unprecedented floods that have caused ’colossal’ destruction, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Friday, as he called for generous international support during the next phases of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Addressing a press conference as he wrapped up his engagements at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, he called for “climate justice” for Pakistan, as this disaster has clearly been caused by climate change and global warming.
“This is a tragedy of monumental proportions,” the foreign minister told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York.
Extreme heat this summer melted many of Pakistan’s glaciers, with early flood outbreaks, and the heat intensified precipitation led to above-average rains.
Pakistan, he said, estimated that the total flood damage was over $30 billion, 10% of its gross domestic product, with one-third of the country under water.
Over fifteen hundred people were killed and thousands injured. Thirty-three million have been affected; 6 million are destitute. Over a million homes, 7000 kilometers of roads, 300 bridges and 5 million acres of crops/orchids were destroyed.
With a minuscule contribution of 0.8% to the Global Green House Gas (GHG), Pakistan, for many years, is being listed among the top 10 countries that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
At the same time, FM Bilawal said Pakistan was working on plans for rehabilitation once the flood waters recede, and would rebuild the lost infrastructure in a much better way so that they could withstand future natural calamities.
The August 30 joint UN-Pakistan Flash Appeal of $160 million was being upgraded, and when the damage estimates are completed, a donors conference will be held to raise funds for rehabilitation and reconstructions in the devastated areas, he said.
Replying to a series of questions, the foreign minister said Pakistan believes that engagement with the Afghan Interim Government was essential to promote the international community’s aims to promote human rights, including women’s rights, political inclusivity and effective and comprehensive action against the terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he added, stands for women’s right to education.