FM calls for talks on debt relief for developing countries

Updated 15 Oct 2020

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asked the Commonwealth to launch a dialogue over deeper and sustained debt relief for developing countries for rapid, stronger and sustained economic recovery of these countries. — APP/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asked the Commonwealth to launch a dialogue over deeper and sustained debt relief for developing countries for rapid, stronger and sustained economic recovery of these countries. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has asked the Commonwealth to launch a dialogue over deeper and sustained debt relief for developing countries for rapid, stronger and sustained economic recovery of these countries.

He was speaking at a virtual meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers on Wednesday. Mr Qureshi’s call follows a similar suggestion by Prime Minister Imran Khan earlier this year. Mr Khan in an address to the nation in April had appealed to the international community to provide developing countries urgent debt relief to help them tackle the Covid-19 challenge.

Referring to the pandemic, Mr Qureshi said it was a matter of concern that the world over the pandemic had been accompanied by a spike in intolerance, violence and racial discrimination.

This is manifested in various forms of hate speech, xenophobia and Islamophobia and in the ascendancy of populist and supremacist ideologies.

Qureshi holds virtual meeting with Commonwealth foreign ministers

“The core principles on which the edifice of Commonwealth and the modern world stand today are rule of law, fundamental freedoms and multilateralism, but these principles are endangered today,” he observed.

The foreign minister said that while the world was pre-occupied with Covid-19 pandemic, a country in South Asia was targeting specific religious and ethnic groups to foment division and hatred among communities.

“It has usurped rights and freedoms of millions of people, fanned hyper-nationalism, engineered illegal demographic change in disputed territories and stoked regional tensions. We ignore its transgressions only at our own peril,” Mr Qureshi said.

About climate change, he said that though no country was immune from its impact, developing countries were disproportionally affected by it.

Despite Pakistan’s limited contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, it was among the most climate-vulnerable countries, the foreign minister said.

He said that it was time the pledge made by developed countries to mobilise $100 billion annually for climate action was fulfilled.

“For Pakistan alone, the total abatement cost for the intended 20 per cent greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2030 is around $40 billion,” he said.

Mr Qureshi said that Pakistan highly appreciated the Commonwealth’s climate change-related initiatives including its Climate Finance Action Hub.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2020