PM proposes debt swap for climate action

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PM Shehbaz

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said that the international community’s sustained support in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of flood-ravaged Pakistan is a matter of justice, not just solidarity.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, he proposed “debt swaps for climate action,” saying death, devastation, and destruction are “driven by global climate change causes,” despite the fact that Pakistan contributes less than 1% of the global carbon footprint. Pakistan is facing a “brunt of natural calamities in the form of heat waves, glacial outbursts, droughts, torrential rains, and unprecedented monsoons,” he said, adding that one-third of the country is underwater.

“Therefore, the response calls for international solidarity and collective action,” Shehbaz said during the interview on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Pakistan is witnessing what he called “super floods” caused by “monsoon on steroids,” a calamity that has affected more than 33 million people, resulted in the death of over 1,500 people, and caused damages to private and public infrastructure worth $30 billion, according to official estimates.

Recalling a statement made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a solidarity visit to Pakistan, PM Shehbaz said that countries like Pakistan, which “have done almost nothing to contribute to global warming, do not deserve to be amongst the frontline countries impacted the most by climate change.”

“It is not just a matter of solidarity, but a matter of justice,” he emphasised, calling on the industrialised nations to “meet their climate finance commitments, with a balanced focus on adaptation and mitigation.”

The prime minister also proposed establishing a “loss and damage financing facility” to compensate developing countries most severely impacted by climate change.

Besides the national effort to mitigate flood-related damages, the premier said that Pakistan is “regularly receiving humanitarian relief items through air, sea and land routes.”

“To date, we have received over 100 flights carrying necessary goods including food, pumps, medicines, tents, hygiene kits, blankets, (and) drinking water,” he said, lauding Türkiye’s role in helping the country during difficult times.

“The sheer scale of the calamity has stretched our resources and capacities to the limit, thus necessitating support from the international community,” he explained, adding, “and we have already seen an outpouring of that support and solidarity, with a large number of our friends and partners stepping forward with assistance to buttress the government-led relief efforts.”

Pointing out the SCO mandate, the prime minister said the regional grouping “undertakes joint efforts to address regional security threats and challenges.”

“Combating the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism form the core of security cooperation framework amongst SCO member states through the platform of SCO RATS,” he explained.

Concerning the regional bloc’s socioeconomic development agenda, he stated that the framework has become comprehensive in the last 20 years.

“The SCO leaders have taken initiatives in diverse areas such as commerce, transport connectivity, industrial cooperation, energy, food, security and climate change,” he said, adding that Pakistan participates in the “collective effort to ensure regional peace as well as economic development” of the SCO region, which forms around 40% of the global population.

Pakistan believes that the SCO’s economic agenda should be translated into tangible actions, he said.

On Pakistan-India relations, the premier said that Islamabad has “consistently advocated constructive engagement and result-oriented dialogue” with New Delhi on all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

 

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