Pak offers to trade financial debts with big countries’ climate debts

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that Pakistan offers to trade its financial debts for big countries’ climate debts as “We have a climate catastrophe, a natural disaster, a health emergency and food security crisis and potentially extremely difficult economic times to come.”

Bilawal also said that Pakistan would like to hold talks with India but it would only be possible if the neighbouring country reverses its extremist position on Occupied Kashmir status and Islamophobia.

In an interview with Al Arabiya Television, Bilawal Bhutto said “We like to be in a position to deal with India, to talk with India, to live peacefully with our neighbours, to solve the Kashmir dispute but they can only do so if India walks back on its extremist position on Kashmir and Islamophobia.”

He said, “Well as the chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC, we obviously highlighted this topic significantly at our OIC annual meeting and our Kashmir group meeting on the sidelines of the UN session. I think who has made this issue difficult is the unilateral actions by India on August 2019 where they tried to unilaterally and illegally undermine the disputed status of this region and then pushing forward with converting the last area of Muslim majority within their region into minority in their own land. These things are totally unacceptable for us.”

Talking about the floods in Pakistan, Bilawal said, “The situation is really dire right now. The climate catastrophe that we are facing is truly one of the apocalyptic proportions.

“Well in Pakistan the monster monsoon started in early June and ended in the end of August. By the time, the rain finally stopped a 100-kilometer lake formed in the middle of my country covering a third of country’s landmass.

Then with more than four million acres of standing crop destroyed. We are potentially staring at a food security crisis and to top it all off, we just engaged with our agreement with IMF. We were receiving our payment looking forward to some economic breathing space and obviously the estimates/figures of that deal is based on is now also washed away by the floods. So, we have a climate catastrophe, a natural disaster, a health emergency and food security crisis and potentially extremely difficult economic times to come.”

When asked about the plans for rebuilding, Bilawal said, “So as the Secretary General of the United Nations said Pakistan is not only drowning in floodwater but we are also drowning in debts. We would like to be able to when we reach the reconstruction rehabilitation phase to build back better, build back in a greener fashion in a more climate-resilient fashion.

In order to so, we need the access to financing and finances to that end. So, we are not only dealing with our bilateral partners but with international organizations, international financial organizations and engaging with them in a conversation about how going forward. So, we are not going as far to say that you know forgive our debts or something. That’s as extreme as that but we are speaking about a couple of options. First of all, a moratorium on repayments that are due at this very moment. Surely the countries we are indebted to with going forward want their debts repaid and we want to be in a position to be able to do that. We are also talking about supporting us with international financial institutions particularly when it is to do with risk of lending.

“Thirdly, a conversation that the UN Secretary General has been having quite some time is about the debt swap and swapping debt and spending that money instead of paying to the debtor country to spend it. We would like to see sort of a similar formula of debts swaps.

 

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