PM set to focus on flood-havoc in his debut UNGA address

Premier Shehbaz will also appeal for international help to deal with flood catastrophe


APP September 22, 2022
PM Shehbaz Sharif addressing the Turkey-Pakistan business forum in Ankara on May 31, 2022. PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter/@GovtofPakistan

UNITED NATIONS:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif makes his debut on world stage when he addresses the 77th session of UN General Assembly on Friday in which he is set to highlight the massive devastation left behind by the deadly climate-induced floods, and appeal for international help to deal with the catastrophe.

The premier is the 12th speaker in the 193-member Assembly's high-level debate on its 4th day in which some 140 world leader are participating. It is the first in-person session of the Assembly following the Covid-19 pandemic.

During his series of meetings with his counterparts from around the world, PM Shehbaz has been briefing them on the floods that have inundated one-third of Pakistan, inflicting huge damage to human lives, infrastructure, livestock and crops.

Read more: No help offered, or asked for from India after floods: FM Bilawal

“Pakistan is passing through difficult times and the havoc wreaked by floods, which is obvious before the world, needs serious attention,” he said in his video statement on Wednesday.

Some world leaders have responded by making dramatic appeals to the international community to come forward and help Pakistan.

Opening the debate on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made a solidarity visit to Pakistan earlier this month, told world leaders that Pakistan is "drowning not only in floodwater, but in debt”.

Read 'Haven't seen destruction of this scale': Bilawal says help needed after overwhelming floods

On Wednesday, the UN chief went on to say at a private meeting with world leaders on climate change, "We have all seen the appalling images from Pakistan, and this is just at 1.2 degrees of global warming and we are heading for over 3 degrees.”

And on the same day, US President Joe Biden told the General Assembly, "Pakistan is still underwater needs help."

On his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  expressing his condolences, said: "We would like to call out to the international community to help the people of Pakistan as they're going through this most unfortunate and painful time."

Similarly, many other world leaders have drawn attention to the floods in Pakistan.

Following Guterres' trip to Pakistan, the UN issued a $160 million flash appeal for help Pakistan cope with initial phases of the calamity, but so far it is not yet fully funded.

In his address, the prime minister will also underscore the need for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute,  one of the oldest items on the agenda of the Security Council, and reaffirm Pakistan's principled stand on the issue.

This year's UNGA is taking place against a backdrop of complex, interconnected crises. Conflict, climate change, and Covid-19 have exacerbated inequality, poverty, and hunger across the planet, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.

Premier meetings

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on the third day of the high-level General Debate of the 77th session, is scheduled to hold several sideline meetings with the world leaders and heads of organisations.

He will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo, his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida and Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

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