AS widely expected, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif made a convincing case before the international community about effects of the climate change in Pakistan, firsthand account of the floods of the biblical proportions, havoc wreaked by rains and floods due to climate change, the need for meaningful assistance by the world to cope with the situation, plight of Kashmiri people and the Afghan issue during his well-written and impressive speech at the UN General Assembly.
He made a passionate appeal to the world on Friday to undo the ‘climate injustice’ done to countries like Pakistan that make little contribution to global warming and yet face its worst consequences.
The Prime Minister, true to his policy of reconciliation and dialogue, offered an olive branch to India by suggesting talks seeking peaceful resolution of all issues including the Kashmir dispute.
He also declared that Pakistan would also like to see an Afghanistan which was at peace with itself and the world, and “which respects and nurtures all its citizens, without regard to gender, ethnicity and religion”.
Reports emanating from New York speak of strenuous efforts being made by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, members of his delegation and Pakistan’s permanent mission to UN to sensitize the world community about the devastation caused by floods of unprecedented magnitude, crippling life in one third of the country and compounding woes of the country already reeling under financial and economic crisis.
Apart from his widely-acclaimed speech, the PM had fruitful bilateral meetings with a number of world leaders during which firm commitments were made to help Pakistan tackle the situation caused by floods and to address the problem of climate change.
It is acknowledged by experts and the world community that Pakistan is one of the major victims of global warming despite being a negligible contributor to the problem.
The Prime Minister, while narrating the plight of the affected regions, pointed out that Pakistan had never seen a more stark and devastating example of the impact of Global Warming.
“Life in Pakistan has changed forever. What the Prime Minister told the world leaders has also been corroborated by the world media, public opinion makers and celebrities like Angelina Jolie who spent enough time in the affected areas and saw for themselves the sufferings of the people and the damages caused to the infrastructure and the economy.
The situation has not changed much even after about two months when the natural calamity started unfolding in different parts of Pakistan.
Even today, huge swathes of the country are still under water, submerged in an ocean of human suffering.
That is why the Prime Minister described it as ground zero of climate change as 33 million people, including women and children, are now at high risk from health hazards, with 650,000 women giving birth in makeshift tarpaulins.
The world is, no doubt, expressing solidarity with Pakistan and providing relief assistance but the country needs much more to rebuild and address the consequences of climate change on a long- term basis.
We hope that our relevant ministries, especially the Foreign Office, will prepare a comprehensive plan to translate the prevailing goodwill for the country into practical programmes.
This is important as it is beyond the capacity of Pakistan to tackle the situation on its own. The situation is so worrisome that it prompted the Prime Minister to make an offer of dialogue to India to resolve all outstanding issues so that limited resources are spent on critical issues like effects of climate change.
It is a saner proposition and hopefully the international community would use its good offices with India to convince it to respond positively to the proposal of Pakistan for the sake of peace, stability and prosperity of the region.
The UN being the right and appropriate forum to raise the Kashmir issue in its true perspective, the Prime Minister told the audience Pakistan wants to have peace with India but long-lasting and enduring peace can only be guaranteed through a just and fair solution of Kashmir, providing the rights to the people of Kashmir under UN Charter and Security Council resolutions.
Pakistan always pleaded the cause of the Afghan people and the UN speech of the Prime Minister was in continuation of the diplomatic push to convince the world community not to abandon but engage with the war-torn country.