The UN chief, Guterres, praises Pakistan and urges the world to look ‘through a broader framework’
ISLAMABAD: The Secretary General of the United Nations (UNSG), Antonio Guterres, praised Pakistan during a press conference with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday night and urged the world to step back and look at the country “through a broader framework”.
Thanking Prime Minister Imran Khan for his invitation, Guterres said: “It is a pleasure to return to Pakistan. It is time for the world to go back and look at Pakistan through a broader framework.”
Pakistan, he added, was the second largest host of refugees in the world. “It is a reliable and benevolent nation,” he said, adding that he was in Islamabad to highlight the same for the world.
“Here in Pakistan, we see solidarity in action,” he said. “Despite the challenges of Pakistan, it has protected Afghan refugees with the limited support of the international community.
“One can imagine how unstable the region could be without the stellar contribution of Pakistan,” he said, stressing, however, that Afghan refugees should return respectfully to their own country.
When asked about whether refugees would accept repatriation, the UNSG said it was “very important to respect the principles.” It would be done “through reconstruction [and] making the road map to allow a safe return of Afghans. “
“Now, the greatest effort must be made in Afghanistan and I support the international community to create conditions for the effective repatriation of refugees,” he added.
The UN chief said the global body was grateful to the peacekeepers of Pakistan. “I am grateful to UNMOGIP [United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan] in Kashmir, “Guterres added.
In response to practical steps on Kashmir on what was holding the UN to ensure that its observers had free control, Guterres said: “I have offered my good offices in relation to the dispute. I visited UNMOGIP and we believe that I should have total freedom of movement “.
He also said that he exchanged ideas with Qureshi about the security situation in South Asia and that mediation, as well as the talks, were the only solution to regional conflicts. “Pakistan’s success has been remarkable and everyone should support Pakistan,” he added.
Towards the end, Guterres said he was aware of Pakistan’s “significant” Afghan peace efforts. “It shows Pakistan’s commitment to peace,” he said.
He added that he expected to visit Nankana Sahib and the “rest of my visit.”
‘The pendulum has swung’
Meanwhile, Qureshi called his meeting with Guterres “the most interesting and revolutionary [one] up to this point”.
“Thank you for being here. You have recognized the contributions Pakistan has made. Your personal and institutional efforts are recognized,” said the Foreign Minister. “We have to accept a repatriation roadmap.”
Noting that today’s world was very challenging, he said that Pakistan had always supported the UN system and that the country had excellent cooperation with it. “I reiterated our support because we understand how important multilateralism is. We are committed to the principles and objectives of the UN Charter,” he said.
“We are also aware that there are elements that give preference to unilateralism over multilateralism and that [such] The action was seen on August 5, 2019. We had a very sincere discussion about Jammu and Kashmir and shared Pakistan’s concerns “about the matter,” said Qureshi.
“I have also pointed out the increasing violations of the ceasefire that take place after August 5. Almost 200 days have passed and the siege and blockade continue and fundamental human rights are denied,” he added, expressing gratitude for the 8 August of Guterres. statement and reiterating the UN position on the international dispute.
“As custodians of the UN letter, we have certain expectations. We discuss the efforts Pakistan has made to facilitate the peace process. Today, we are considered part of the solution.
“There was a time when Pakistan was seen as part of the problem, but today the pendulum has swung. I discussed our strategy to achieve the SDGs [sustainable development goals] objectives “.
Responding to a reporter’s question about the region, Qureshi said: “Pakistan has been sharing its concerns in every possible forum. In fact, today, what Pakistan is saying to the world about India is being backed by the world community.”
Guterres urges India to respect human rights in Kashmir
Early in the day, the UNSG answered questions after a special talk on Sustainable Development and Climate Change in Islamabad. He had urged India to respect human rights in Kashmir occupied by India (IoK).
Guterres told the audience that “the UN has always emphasized the talks between Pakistan and India.”
He said that human rights should not only be respected in Kashmir, but should be respected throughout the world.
“The UN’s position on human rights is very clear,” said the UN chief, adding that he has supported the dialogue between the two nuclear states “many times.”
The ‘vulnerability of Pakistan due to climate change’
Earlier in his speech, the UN chief said that Pakistan, like other developing countries, faced “disproportionate vulnerability” due to climate change, but “has contributed little.”
“In the last decade, Pakistan has lost some 10,000 lives due to weather-related disasters, including 1,200 who died due to a terrible heat wave in Karachi in 2015,” said the UN chief to emphasize the threat facing the Country for climate change.
Guterres told the audience that the Indus Valley was vulnerable to flooding and that coastal communities “face the possibility of being flooded by rising sea levels.” He also mentioned that Pakistan faces a lobster emergency due to weather disruption.
“Global warming is leading to a global swarm, but the biggest concern for Pakistan is water,” said the UN chief. He also said that this was true for all the people of Central, South and East Asia, who depend on the Himalayan water.
To highlight the threat, the UN chief spoke about the threat facing Pakistan’s agricultural sector due to water scarcity, as it contributes to 75% of Pakistan’s exports and produces 90% of the food supply of the nation.
“They [farmer] it will depend on the rain and irrigation of the rivers that cross the mountain glaciers, “the UN chief said. He said that 80% of Pakistan’s water use is for agriculture that was under threat.
“Pakistan is one of the 15 countries with the greatest water scarcity in the world,” said the UN chief.
To highlight the seriousness of the situation, Guterres told the audience that due to rising temperatures and melting glaciers, “Pakistan’s goals to reduce poverty and ensure food security” were also at risk.
However, he said that Pakistan was not alone since the same story was “reflected throughout the world.” He talked about droughts in the Horn of Africa and nature in the United States and Australia to highlight the global problem.
The UN chief said he was constantly urging world leaders to act on climate change before it is too late.
He lamented that after the success of the Paris conference, the impetus against climate change had slowed down and he accepted that COP25 in Madrid was a “disappointment.”
In his speech, the UN Secretary General praised Prime Minister Imran Khan for highlighting climate change in his speech at the UN General Assembly last year in September. He also congratulated Pakistan for becoming the co-chair of green climate funds.
“I also welcome initiatives such as the 10 billion tsunami campaign and the clean and green government movement in Pakistan,” Guterres said. The UN chief also shared that he was “extremely impressed” when he learned that Islamabad had banned the use of plastic bags.
Pakistan’s hug to the SDGs was praised
Speaking about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN chief thanked Pakistan for “embracing the SDGs from the beginning.”
The UN chief shared that all UN member states, five years ago, agreed to implement the SDGs. He shared that the objectives were “interrelated to end poverty in all its forms and build societies that we are proud to transmit to future generations.”
“In 2016, Pakistan was one of the first nations to integrate the SDGs into its national development agenda and recognize them as national development goals,” Guterres said in appreciating Pakistan.
He also commended Pakistan for launching the national SDG framework in 2018 “to prioritize and locate global goals across the country.”
The UN secretary general also accepted that poverty reduction was at the heart of Pakistan’s goal of leaving no one behind.
“The national poverty alleviation program entitled Ehassas or compassion was launched to expand social protection networks and support human development,” said the UN chief. He also highlighted the Kamyab Jawan program, which aims to create 10 million jobs in five years.
“The nation is succeeding in reducing neonatal mortality thanks in large part to the health worker program, which has brought a significant increase in the attendance of skilled deliveries,” said the UN chief.
However, the UN secretary general said the pace of change in Pakistan and elsewhere was not “fast enough.”
“In Pakistan you are dealing with major challenges related to HIV and polio and environmental degradation, in addition to providing education and jobs in one of the youngest countries in the world, and worldwide the story is similar,” Guterres said.
The UN chief told the audience that the collective efforts of the world were not approaching the scale required to reach the SDGs by 2030.
“In fact, according to some estimates, we can reduce our goals by half at the current rate,” Secretary General Guterres shared.
Guterres praises Pakistan’s hospitality
Guterres also expressed his gratitude to the people and government of Pakistan for their sincere hospitality with Afghan war refugees.
The UN Secretary General made the comments by meeting with a delegation of Afghan refugees in Islamabad today. Representatives of Afghanistan, Yemen and Tajikistan were part of the delegation.
Speaking on the occasion, the UN chief said that Pakistan was one of the largest refugee host nations in the world. He added that 2.7 million refugees resided in Pakistan with 2.4 million registered refugees affected by the Afghan war.
The secretary general expressed his gratitude to the people and government of Pakistan for their sincere hospitality.
Guterres who arrived in Islamabad today for a four-day visit will address the international conference on Afghan refugees entitled “40 years of Afghan refugee presence in Pakistan: a new partnership for solidarity.”
The conference would be a recognition of Pakistan’s “tremendous generosity” in hosting millions of refugees from Afghanistan for four decades, said UN chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric at the usual midday news session in New York. The conference will be opened by Prime Minister Khan and is organized by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR).
Pakistan is one of the largest refugee host nations in the world, home to approximately 2.4 million registered and undocumented people who fled Afghanistan, some since the 1979 Soviet invasion.
Many live in camps, while others have built lives in the cities of Pakistan, paying rent and contributing to the economy.