THE forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to attend the UN General Assembly session surely offers a timely opportunity to sensitize the international community about the challenges facing the country and the cooperation that the world community can offer to tackle them effectively.
According to the Foreign Office, the Prime Minister would address the UNGA on September 23 and his speech would focus on climate-induced catastrophic floods.
The UNGA session is a mega event, which brings together top leadership, diplomats, decision-makers, public opinion-makers and media-persons from across the world and that is why most of the countries including Pakistan ensure highest level and effective representation to put across their national point of view from this important platform.
The session takes place at a time when Pakistan is confronting a huge challenge posed by unprecedented floods and according to local and foreign experts and relevant institutions, climate change is the major reason behind the natural calamity of enormous scale.
Pakistan is trying its level best to handle the situation and different countries of the world as well as the United Nations are offering assistance to help carry out relief operations and mitigate sufferings of the affected people.
However, the destruction is so widespread that initial estimates reveal the country would need at least $31 billion for relief and rehabilitation tasks.
In addition, the country will have to prepare medium and long-term plans to mitigate the effects of the climate change involving huge investment and it is understood that all this is beyond the capacity of Pakistan to spare necessary resources to tackle the situation arising out of ongoing floods and prevent such a situation in future.
Therefore, we hope Pakistan would exploit the opportunity to present its case before the world community in a persuasive manner.
The speech and briefing for the Prime Minister must have been prepared with input from all relevant institutions and now it depends on the PM and his delegation members to make a convincing case before the world.
The Prime Minister has demonstrated his communication skills during his recent visit to Uzbekistan to attend the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and we are confident that the New York visit would also prove to be productive and fruitful.
Incidentally, the delegation accompanying the Prime Minister as powerful one as it includes vocal cabinet members like Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Pakistan also has an experienced and knowledge-enriched permanent representative (Ambassador Munir Akram) at the world body and his expertise would serve as an asset to highlight Pakistan’s cause on the occasion.
On the sidelines of the UNGA, the Prime Minister will hold a number of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from various countries, the President of the General Assembly, the UN Secretary General as well as heads of international organisations, international financial institutions and philanthropic organizations.
These meetings can be made substantial and result-oriented with proper preparations for each one of them.
Apart from the flood situation, there are also issues of core interest to Pakistan and the speech as well as bilateral meetings and media interaction opportunities would hopefully be exploited to project them in true perspective.
The Kashmir issue is still an unresolved item on the agenda of the United Nations and India is not only consolidating its illegal occupation of the disputed territory but has also unleashed the worst kind of atrocities to suppress the legitimate demand of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination.
The UN acknowledged this right and adopted resolutions for the purpose but these remain unimplemented even after passage of over seven decades.
We hope the Prime Minister and members of his delegation would project the cause of Kashmiri people in line with their aspirations and longstanding position of the country.
Pakistan has rendered huge sacrifices in the war against terror and in the process suffered immensely both in terms of human and economic losses but its contribution and role is not properly being understood for various reasons and the country remains a target of venomous propaganda of anti-Pakistan lobbies.
The issue of terrorism and extremism needs to be properly highlighted in the backdrop of continued threats to Pakistan’s interests as underlined by re-emergence of activities of Taliban and Daesh and cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.
There are also issues like Islamophobia and adverse propaganda against the developmental project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that would need proper focus during the visit.