US PRESIDENT Joe Biden has invited global leaders to participate in a summit on climate change. According to a statement by the White House, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are amongst the forty world leaders invited to the moot to be held virtually on April 22-23.
Given the threat posed by climate change often described as far more serious than terrorism and Covid-19, making it a priority on the part of the new US Administration is a step in the right direction and must be appreciated.
Indeed the major capital needs to be more forthcoming and make joint efforts to protect the planet earth from the environmental degradation.
Despite serious differences with China and Russia, the US decision to work with both the powers on climate change is a pragmatic approach as the targets of reducing carbon emissions cannot be achieved through solo flights but collaborative efforts.
However, what has surprised everybody and raised concerns is the omission of Prime Minister Imran Khan from the Summit.
The fact of the matter is that Pakistan is the country most affected by changing weather patterns.
As per the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, issued by German Watch, Pakistan is the fifth-most vulnerable country to climate change.
Over the last decade or so, the country has witnessed severe floods, heat waves and drought like situation, which has badly affected its economy.
Then most importantly, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in our view, is the only leader in the developing world which has not only spoken eloquently on the issue but also taken genuine steps on the ground to deal with the issue.
After successfully executing tree plantation campaign in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Khan’s government at the centre has launched a mega program under which ten billion trees will be planted across the country.
Renewable energy and electric policies are other steps in that regard.
Hence, ignoring Pakistan is beyond our understanding and also in sharp contrast to Biden’s letter to President Arif Alvi on the occasion of Pakistan Day in which he affirmed to strengthen partnership with Islamabad.
We have been stressing in these columns that the US must stop seeing Pakistan only in the prism of security situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has always sincerely desired to promote and strengthen relations with Washington and time has come for it to reciprocate.
We will, therefore, urge the US Administration to reconsider its decision and invite PM Khan.
Given his greater understanding of the issue, his inputs will prove to be more valuable to prepare a more robust climate action plan.