UNSG’s strong solidarity

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VISITING the flood ravaged areas in Sindh and Balochistan provinces on Saturday where he also interacted with people affected by massive floods, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the international community to substantialy support Pakistan, which has very little contribution to global greenhouse emissions, to overcome the challenge posed by unimaginable flood devastation and build a climate resilient infrastructure to resist disasters in future.

While rightly pointing out that it is not a matter of generosity but that of justice, he assured to strongly advocate for debt swaps with the IMF and the World Bank through which developing countries like Pakistan instead of paying a debt to foreign creditors will be able to use that money to invest in climate resilience, investments in sustainable infrastructure and green transition of their economies.

As regards climate change and its adverse impact, the UN Secretary General has forcefully pleaded Pakistan’s case, which needs to be commended as doing so he rightly reminded industrialised and developed nations — the major polluters and emitters — of their responsibilities towards poor countries such as Pakistan which are bearing the brunt of their actions.

Though our authorities are yet to complete damage assessment survey yet according to initial estimates, the country has suffered losses of twenty to thirty billion dollars in the catastrophic flooding.

Apart from rebuilding lives of millions of displaced families, both federal and provincial governments have a phenomenal task of putting up climate resilient infrastructure.

During a visit to Dadu, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa put forward a blueprint stressing for a long term plan envisaging construction of delayed action dams and water drainage system to mitigate the impacts of disasters caused by climate change.

He also disclosed that an initial study has also been conducted by the army to secure the west bank of the Indus River and this will be presented to the Prime Minister and provincial chief ministers next week.

Definitely we will have to think on these lines and prepare a strategy to deal with riverine floods which also conserves water, and the best solution is construction of big dams as also suggested by the Army Chief in Swat.

However, all this requires massive funding and our economic situation at present is so fragile that we cannot do it alone without support of major capitals which under the Paris Agreement are required to help most vulnerable countries.

The way the UN Secretary General has strongly expressed solidarity with the flood victims in Pakistan, we are confident that he will continue to sensitise and remind the world community towards its obligations.

To a large extent, there is recognition in the world about the unprecedented devastation wreaked by floods in Pakistan.

As the annual session of UN General Assembly is about to commence in New York , we will suggest the UN Secretary General to convene a donors conference for Pakistan, theme of which should be Justice not Generosity.

It is also for our Foreign Office to build up the case, engage with the UN authorities and major capitals to make this happen which indeed will be helpful to secure funding for rehabilitation work.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his address to the UN General Assembly should fully use the occasion to highlight the challenge posed by climate change to Pakistan.

In fact a comprehensive Climate Preparedness and Adaptation plan should be prepared by our authorities for presentation to the world which should also envisage funding requirements.

The last two decades or so have been very difficult for Pakistan. Firstly, it confronted the menace of terrorism as a frontline state which apart from adversely impacting economy, inflicted losses of more one hundred billion dollars yet nobody compensated these losses that we suffered for regional and global peace and security.

Now these climate induced calamities are wreaking havoc and once again we are paying the price of irresponsible actions of others.

It is time that world community practically demonstrates solidarity with Pakistan to cope with this most pressing challenge.

It is also for our government to divert all possible indigenous resources to the projects that ensure a safe and secured future to our coming generations.

 

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