The SOS on floods and debt is joined by world leaders in Pakistan

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UNITED NATIONS: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif asked the international community to support Pakistan as it deals with this humanitarian disaster by floods. “Pakistan is drowning, not just in floodwater but in debt,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

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Paris offered to organise an international conference before the end of the year to promote Islamabad’s reconstruction in a climate-resilient fashion, and Pakistan and France agreed to work together to explore methods and means to support efforts to address the challenge presented by the floods.

In a powerful speech to global leaders assembled for the first day of the high-level discussion at the General Assembly, the UN president said, “I recently witnessed it with my own eyes in Pakistan — where one-third of the nation is drowned by a’monsoon on steroids’.”

Mr. Guterres reiterated the plea he originally made during his recent trip to Pakistan, during which he encouraged lenders to take debt reduction into consideration in order to assist those countries that could be about to experience an economic collapse. At the UNGA, he reiterated, “Creditors should take into account debt reduction tools such debt-climate adaption swaps.” These may have helped Pakistan, which is drowning in debt as well as floodwater, preserve lives and livelihoods.

The head of the UN pleaded with the creditors to establish “an effective system of debt relief for developing nations, particularly middle-income countries, in economic trouble.”

After the Covid-19 outbreak, world leaders are physically present at the UNGA for the first time this year.

At the welcome reception that Mr. Guterres hosted, Prime Minister Sharif also spoke with Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and had private meetings with Chancellor Karl Nehammer of Austria, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Pedro Sanchez Perez-Castejon of Spain, and Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In addition, Mr. Sharif thanked Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestine, for deploying a response and rescue team for Pakistan’s flood victims.

In a series of tweets, he also emphasised the need of assisting emerging markets. He was supposed

to speak at the Global Food Security Summit, but he was unable to do so because of other

commitments. He said in his tweets that his purpose for attending the UNGA was to “convey the

world Pakistan’s tale, a story of tremendous grief and pain emerging out of a massive human

catastrophe caused by floods.”

French support

According to a joint statement released following PM Sharif’s meeting with French President

Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the UNGA, the premier informed President Macron of the

devastation caused by the climate-related floods across Pakistan, expressed gratitude to France for

sending timely assistance in the form of tents, water pumps, and a team of medical professionals,

and hoped that the nation would continue to contribute in the rehabilitation and reconstruction

phase.

The prime minister also praised France for supporting the GSP+ programme, adding that it has

improved trade and economic connections with both France and the European Union.

 

 

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