The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, is expected to hold bilateral meetings with leaders and presidents of OIC member states and officials of regional and international organisations, on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
OIC Secretariat in Jeddah issued a statement on Saturday according to which the general secretariat will hold the annual coordination meeting at the level of the OIC foreign ministers, in addition to the meetings of the OIC six-member committee on Palestine, the Contact Group on Muslims in Europe, the Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir, and the Contact Group on the Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar.
The OIC secretary-general will lead a high-level delegation in New York to participate in the 77th session of the UNGA. APP
PM seeks ‘approximation of justice’ over flood losses
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday Pakistan expected “some approximation of justice” for the huge losses and damages caused by the climate-induced devastating floods, warning that the nature’s fury would not remain confined to Pakistan.
Addressing the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) the prime minister said that Pakistan was at “ground zero” of climate change despite contributing less than 1% of carbon emissions.
The prime minister delivered a wide-ranging speech in which he raised the Kashmir issue, the situation in Afghanistan, the war against terrorism, peace in the Middle East and the conflicts in Europe and elsewhere. However, most of the address dilated on the floods and climate change.
“As I stand here today to tell the story of my country, Pakistan, my heart and mind have not been able to leave home. No words can describe the shock we are living through or how the face of the country lies transformed,” Shehbaz said, while opening his address.
“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. Even today, huge swathes … are still under-water, submerged in an ocean of human suffering,” he added.
Shehbaz, in his first address to the General Assembly as the prime minister, warned the world that climate disasters would not remain confined to Pakistan, adding that nature’s reckoning had come upon everyone.
“Pakistan never saw a more stark and devastating example of the impact of global warming,” he said. “One thing is very clear: what happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan. Make no mistake, the hour, the year of nature’s reckoning is upon us!” he added.
Calling Pakistan the “ground zero of climate change”, Shehbaz pointed out that more than 1,500 of people died in the great flood, including over 400 children, 33 million people were at high risk from health hazards, 650,000 women giving birth in makeshift tarpaulins.
“Far more are in peril from disease and malnutrition,” he continued. “As we speak, millions of climate migrants are still looking for dry land to pitch their tents on, with heart-breaking losses to their families, their futures and their livelihoods.”
The prime minister said that the nature unleashed her fury on Pakistan “without looking at our carbon footprint, which is next to nothing”. He then asked why the people of Pakistan pay the price of such high global warming through no fault of their own.
“It is therefore entirely reasonable to expect some approximation of justice for this loss and damage, not to mention building back better with resilience,” he said, adding his voice to growing calls among developing countries for financial compensation from rich polluters.
He said that the floods impact on the health and wealth of Pakistan was beyond calculation but he worried more about the next stage of the challenge when the world’s focus turns away to other issues. “My question is, will we be left alone, to cope with a crisis we did not create?”
The prime minister stressed that this “climate injustice” required the world leaders to take immediate remedial actions. “It is high time we took a pause from the preoccupations of the 20th century to return to the challenges of the 21st,” he said.
The entire definition of national security has changed today, and unless the leaders of the world come together to act now behind minimum agreed agenda, there will be no earth to fight wars over. Nature will be fighting back, and for that humanity is no match”, he added.
The prime minister told the world body that Pakistan’s urgent priority right now was to ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of destitution and hunger. To enable any such policy momentum, he added, Pakistan needed a stable external environment.
“At this point, the gap between our urgent needs and available resources is amplified by the sheer, unprecedented scale of the disaster. Our manpower and resources are totally overwhelmed,” he added.
Shehbaz thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who visited Pakistan and spent time with climate refugees, with mothers and children in the tents, adding, “I want to thank each and every one of the countries that have sent help, and their representatives to Pakistan.”
The prime minister told the world body that Pakistan looked for peace with all of its neighbours, including India. However, sustainable peace and stability in South Asia remained contingent upon a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Referring to India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019, he said India was seeking to turn the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir into a Hindu-majority territory, through illegal demographic changes.
He said Pakistani people have always stood by their Kashmiri brothers and sisters in complete solidarity, and would continue to do so until their right to self-determination is fully realised in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
“India should demonstrate its sincerity and willingness, to walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing its illegal steps of 15 August 2019, and ending forthwith the process of demographic change,” he said.
“Pakistan is a partner for peace. We want to have long-lasting and enduring peace with India. I will be most forthcoming and then sit down and talk to my Indian counterpart and pave the way forward for future so that our future generations do not suffer.”
Coming to the situation in Afghanistan, the prime minister said that Pakistan would like to see an “Afghanistan which was at peace with itself and the world, and which respected and nurtured all its citizens, without regard to gender, ethnicity and religion”.
He told the gathering that Pakistan was working to encourage respect for the rights of Afghan girls and women to education and work. “Yet, at this point, isolating the Afghan Interim government could aggravate the suffering of the Afghan people.”
He urged the international community to respond in a positive way to the UN secretary-general’s appeal for $4.2 billion in humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan; release Afghanistan’s financial reserves, essential to revive its banking system.
Shehbaz said that Pakistan shared the key concern of the international community regarding the threat posed by the major terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan, but stressed: “They all need to be dealt with comprehensively, with the support of the Afghan authorities.”
Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the prime minister told the General Assembly that terrorism did not have a religion. “It is based on dogma, fuelled by poverty, deprivation, injustice and ignorance, and fanned by vested interests”.
He said Pakistan’s armed forces, with the support of its people, had broken the back of terrorism within the country yet it continued to suffer terrorist attacks from across the borders, sponsored and financed by the regional adversary.
Calling Islamophobia a global phenomenon, the prime minister told the General Assembly that since 9/11, suspicion and fear of Muslims and discrimination against them had escalated to epidemic proportions.
He said officially-sponsored campaign of oppression against India’s over 200 million Muslims was the worst manifestation of Islamophobia, who were subjected to discriminatory laws and policies, Hijab bans, attacks on mosques, and lynching by Hindu mobs.
Reiterating Pakistan’s deep concerns over the numerous conflicts across the Middle East – including in Syria and Yemen – the prime minister said Pakistan supported all possible efforts to promote their peaceful resolution.
“We call on Israel to put an immediate end to the blatant use of force and flagrant violations of human rights of the Palestinian people,” he said. “The only just, comprehensive and lasting solution is the acceptance of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State.”UNSC expansion
The prime minister said that the UN Security Council and the General Assembly must be empowered to play their respective roles under the UN Charter. He favoured UNSC expansion by adding 11 new non-permanent members to make it more representative.
“Adding new permanent members will paralyse the council’s decision-making, enlarge its representational deficit, and create new centres of privilege in violation of the principle of sovereign equality of member States,” he commented.
Calling for the nations to step back from the precipice, he urged the world to restore peace in Europe, avoid a war in Asia and resolve festering conflicts across the world. He added that Pakistan would work with all those committed to the UN Charter’s principles.
AJK PM urges UN, OIC to openly support Kashmiris
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, while terming the Kashmir dispute as one of the oldest disputes pending on the United Nations (UN) agenda, said on Friday that it was high time that the UN and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) must come forward to support Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
The president expressed these views while addressing a special meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the OIC at the UN on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion, while referring to India’s traditional intransigence, he said that India’s perpetual denial to grant the right to self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir was the main reason that the issue continues to linger for the past 75 years.
He also said that it was long overdue that the UN should come forward in a big way and influence the government of India to implement the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that guarantee the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir.
Referring to the worsening human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the president pointed out that in addition to police and paramilitary forces the Indian government had deployed over a half million armed forces in Kashmir to quell the Kashmiris’ legitimate political struggle for their right to self-determination.
He said that the massive troops’ concentration in the region was one of the main causes of human rights violations in the disputed territory.
Since August 5, 2019, he added, the deployment of additional forces had further worsened the human rights situation in Kashmir.
Citing the Modi government’s political and administrative machinations in Kashmir, Chaudhry said that in the aftermath of 2019, the Indian government had intensified its efforts to change the region’s demography to convert the Muslim-majority state into a minority.
He said that changing the region’s electoral map through reorganisation of constituencies was a deep-rooted conspiracy to bring a Hindu chief minister in the state.
He, however, maintained that India’s policy of oppression and suppression could not dampen the Kashmiris’ spirit and their passion for freedom.
The AJK president made a passionate appeal to the international community, in particular the UN and OIC, to play their much-needed role to resolve the Kashmir issue to mitigate the unending sufferings of Kashmiris who have been reeling under India’s belligerent military occupation.
He said that it was high time that the UN and OIC must openly support the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination and use their influence on India to resolve the Kashmir issue and stop the ongoing violation of human rights in occupied Kashmir.
PM seeks peace with India to spend resources on natural calamity
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has offered his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “to sit down and talk”, seeking peaceful resolution of all issues including the Kashmir dispute.
Premier Shehbaz also highlighted the impact of climate change resulting in the devastating rain-induced floods in Pakistan in his maiden address to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Friday.
“I will be most forthcoming to sit down and talk to our Indian counterpart to pave the way forward for future so that our generations do not suffer so that we spend our resources in mitigating miseries, on building structures to face these floods and outbursts of clouds,” he said.
He added, “We want 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 according to Security Council resolutions.”
He said that developing countries don’t have unlimited resources and the available resources should be spent on the well-being of the people.
Shehbaz said that Pakistan’s urgent priority right now is to ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of destitution and hunger, saying to enable any such policy momentum, Pakistan needs a stable external environment.
“We look for peace with all our neighbours, including India. Sustainable peace and stability in South Asia, however, remain contingent upon a just and lasting solution to 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 added.
The premier said that India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, to change the internationally recognised “disputed” status of Jammu and Kashmir and to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory further undermined the prospects of peace and inflamed regional tensions.
“India’s relentless campaign of repression against Kashmiris has continued to grow in scale and intensity. In pursuit of this heinous goal. New Delhi has ramped up its military deployments in occupied Jammu and Kashmir to 900,000 troops, thus making it the most militarised zone in the world,” he added.
The prime minister said that the serial brutalisation of Kashmiris takes many forms: extrajudicial killings, incarceration, custodial torture and death, indiscriminate use of force, deliberate targeting of Kashmiri youth with pellet guns, and “collective punishments” imposed on entire communities.
“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.”
PM Shehbaz said that millions of fake “domicile certificates” have been issued to non-Kashmiris. “Kashmiri land and properties are being seized; electoral districts have been Jerry Mandered; 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 4th Geneva Convention,” he added.
He said that the Pakistani people have always stood by Kashmiri brothers and sisters in complete solidarity, and will continue to do so until their right to self-determination is fully realised in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
“I assure the world from this august platform, that we in Pakistan remain consistent in our commitment to peace in South Asia. India must take credible steps to create enabling environment for constructive engagement. It should demonstrate its sincerity and willingness, to walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing its illegal steps of August 15, 2019, and ending forth-with, the process of demographic change.”
He said that Pakistan hoped the world body and the Secretary-General will play their rightful role in urging India to implement the long-pending UN resolutions.
Pakistan’s ‘vital stake’ in Afghanistan
Premier Shehbaz said that Afghanistan presents a unique challenge as 30 million are left without a functional economy and banking system that allows ordinary Afghans to make a living to be able to build a better future.
“Pakistan would also like to see an Afghanistan which is at peace with itself and the world, and which respects and nurtures all its citizens, without regard to gender, ethnicity and religion.”
The prime minister said that Pakistan is working to encourage respect for the rights of Afghan girls and women to education and work. “Yet, at this point, isolating the Afghan interim government could aggravate the suffering of the Afghan people, who are already destitute.”
He said that constructive engagement and economic support are more likely to secure a positive response. “A peaceful, prosperous and connected Afghanistan is in our collective interest. As a neighbour, Pakistan has a vital stake in peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have led the humanitarian efforts to help our Afghan brothers and sisters,” he added.
“We must avoid another civil war, rising terrorism, drug trafficking or new refugees – which none of Afghanistan’s neighbours is in a position to accommodate.”
PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan urges the international community to respond in a positive way to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for $4.2 billion in humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan; release Afghanistan’s financial reserves, essential to revive its banking system.
He said that Pakistan shares the key concern of the international community regarding the threat posed by the major terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan, especially ISIL-K and TTP as well as Al-Qaida, ETIM and IMU.
“They all need to be dealt with comprehensively, with the support and cooperation of the Interim Afghan authorities. In turn, the international community should address Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian needs,” he added.
Talking about the devastating floods in the country, Premier Shehbaz said that no words can describe the shock Pakistanis are living through or how the face of the country lies transformed.
“I have come here to explain first-hand, the scale and magnitude of this climate catastrophe that has pushed one-third of my country underwater in a super storm that no one has seen in living memory,” he added.
The prime minister said that huge swathes of the country are still under-water, submerged in an ocean of human suffering. “In this ground zero of climate change, 33 million people, including women and children are now at high risk from health hazards, with 650,000 women giving birth in makeshift tarpaulins. For 40 days and 40 nights a biblical flood poured down on us, smashing centuries of weather records, challenging everything we knew about the disaster, and how to manage it.”
Shehbaz Sharif also said that more than 1,500 people have perished in the great flood, including over 400 children and far more are in peril from disease and malnutrition. “As we speak, millions of climate migrants are still looking for dry land to pitch their tents on, with heart-breaking losses to their families, their futures and their livelihoods.”
He said that the early estimates suggest that more than 13,000km of metalled roads have been damaged, over 370 bridges have been swept away, a million homes have been destroyed and another million damaged.
“More than a million farm animals have been killed. Four million acres of crops have been washed away, stripping the people of their breadbasket, and damage of an unimaginable scale,” he added.
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