AT the international conference on Climate Resilient, jointly hosted by Pakistan and the United Nations in Geneva, the response of the world community remained overwhelming and beyond expectations.
The government was estimating to raise $ 8 billion dollars of the total $ 16 billion dollars required for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of food affected areas, but the multilateral lenders and the friendly countries made the commitments totalling about $ 10. 7 billion in complete expression of solidarity with the flood affected population.
It is also a big achievement on the diplomatic front as well. Our team led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in a compelling manner, presented Pakistan’s case which was well heard and responded by the international community.
The way the UN Secretary General António Guterres pleaded Pakistan’s case from the day when the floods wreaked havoc in the country and reminded time and again the world of its obligations towards the victims of climate change is really commendable and this must be recognized by awarding him Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country’s highest civilian award.
In fact he was more vocal than our officials in highlighting the plight and sufferings of the flood victims and at the Geneva conference, he once again stressed for massive investment to rebuild the damaged infrastructure while renewing call to the global leaders and multilateral development banks to create ways for developing countries to access debt relief and concessional financing when they needed the most.
The people of Pakistan will always remember Antonio’s relentless support in the hour of need.
We believe that the pledges will go further higher as some friendly countries restrained from announcing the same at Geneva conference as every country has its own way of extending the support.
The materialization of the pledges will also create much needed fiscal space for external debt sustainability and reinforce efforts to implement the ongoing IMF programme.
As a term of three years has been set for the reconstruction phase, there should be no delay in execution of projects.
We have to learn a lesson from the reconstruction work carried out in the wake of 2005 earthquake.
Whilst the “Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework prepared in cooperation with the world partners provide a good way forward, our authorities concerned must mainstream the projects and ensure early bidding of them in a transparent manner.
Every challenge provides an opportunity and a chance to grow. These unprecedented floods have also thrown to us an opportunity to rebuild back better and transform the whole landscape.
For this we will also need the technical expertise and advice of important capitals including China and the United States.
Whilst focusing on building defences and shields against future disasters, the priority must be given to the reconstruction of damaged houses.
Either the government itself should construct the houses or provide sufficient compensation package to the affected families for the same.
It must be done immediately as the cash flows in since millions of people are still braving the harsh winter season under the open skies.
As committed by the government, we also have to pool in our own resources for the reconstruction phase.
To do this, the government must lay focus on enhancing tax revenue collection to make the funds available for the momentous task.
The private sector and philanthropists will also have to generously contribute in this noble cause.
The overseas Pakistanis, who have always proved to a precious asset, also need to come forward and invest in important infrastructure projects.
The government’s decision to establish an international partners’ support group is also a step in the right direction which will help the country secure additional funding from sources such as Damage and Loss Fund which needs to be established forthwith for a timely action to cope with the issue of climate change.