Flood-ravaged Pakistan’s leader appeals for urgent global support in UN address

September 24, 2022
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-seventh session. — courtesy UN Photo/Cia Pak
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-seventh session. — courtesy UN Photo/Cia Pak

NEW YORK — With huge swaths of his country still under water following recent devastating floods, Pakistan’s Prime Minister appealed on Friday for global support to help his country face the consequences of a climate catastrophe the likes of which it has never seen before.

“No words can describe the shock we are living through or how the face of the country lies transformed,” Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

“For 40 days and 40 nights a biblical flood poured down on us, smashing centuries of weather records, challenging everything we knew about disaster, and how to manage it.”

Close to eight million people have been displaced by the disaster, according to the UN, which along with the authorities and partners have continued to reach affected populations with desperately needed relief items. To date, more than 1,500 people have been killed, including 552 children.

The prime minister noted that some 33 million people are now at risk of health hazards; more than 13,000 kilometers of roads have been damaged; one million homes have been destroyed and another million damaged; and four million acres of crops have been washed away.

“Pakistan has never seen a starker and more devastating example of the impact of global warming,” he stressed. “Life in Pakistan has changed forever.”

On his visit to the country earlier this month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he had never seen “climate carnage on this scale,” and called for urgent financial support to help Pakistan, saying it is not just a question of solidarity but a question of justice.

The prime minister noted: “Nature has unleashed her fury on Pakistan without looking at our carbon footprint, which is next to nothing. Our actions did not contribute to this.”

He added that the current priority is to ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of destitution, which requires a stable external environment.

“Sustainable peace and stability in South Asia, however, remains contingent upon a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. At the heart of this longstanding dispute lies the denial of the inalienable right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination,” he said.

The prime minister added that in a “classic settler-colonial project,” India is seeking to turn the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu-majority territory through “illegal demographic changes.”

“Millions of fake ‘domicile certificates’ have been issued to non-Kashmiris; Kashmiri land and properties are being seized; electoral districts have been gerrymandered; and over 2.5 million non-Kashmiri illegal voters fraudulently registered.

“All this is in blatant violation of Security Council resolutions and international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

He called on the United Nations and the Secretary-General to play their rightful role in urging India to implement existing UN resolutions on this issue.

The position of the UN on this region is governed by the UN Charter and applicable Security Council resolutions. The Secretary-General maintains that the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir is to be reached by peaceful means, in accordance with the UN Charter and bilateral agreements. — UN News

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