ISLAMABAD: Prime Min­­ister Imran Khan on Sat­urday said he felt perple­xed at the cacophony being rai­sed by his political oppone­nts for Pakistan not being invited to attend the virtual leaders’ summit on climate hosted by US President Joe Biden.

On his Twitter handle, the prime minister posted a number of tweets to highlight his government’s initiatives for environmental protection and over climate change, solely driven for the future generations.

Mr Khan tweeted: “I am puzzled at the cacophony over Pak not being invited to a climate change conf! My govt’s environment policies are driven solely by our commitment to our future gen­erations of a clean & green Pak­istan to mitigate the im­p­­act of climate cha­nge. Hence our initiatives of Green Pak, 10-bn-tree tsunami, nature-based solutions, cleaning up our rivers etc. We have gained vast experience in 7 yrs, beg (beginning) with KP, & our policies are being recognised & lauded.”

He said he had already laid out priorities for the UN Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26) if the international community was serious about countering impact of climate change.

The prime minister also expressed willingness to help any state wanting to learn from Pakistan’s experience. “We are ready to help any state wanting to learn from our experience,” he tweeted.

According to a White House statement, President Biden had invited 40 world leaders to the summit on climate. While leaders from India, China and Bangladesh were among the 40 invitees, Pakistan was not included in the list.

The PM’s statement comes days after it was announced that US climate envoy John Kerry would travel to Abu Dhabi, New Delhi, and Dhaka from April 1 to 9 in an effort to narrow differences on climate change goals to slow global warming.

Mr Kerry’s schedule did not mention talks with the leadership of Pakistan, which is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.

Scheduled for April 22 and 23, the summit is one of the two major international events on climate change this year as the United Nations will also hold the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP-26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in November when Pakistan will be invited as a UN member.

However, Pakistan’s exclusion from the invitation list for this month summit being hosted by the US had raised eyebrows, with several analysts questioning the move given the country’s vulnerability to global warming. Others perceived it as a snub for the country.

However, the US State Department said Washington looked forward to working with Islamabad on the climate crisis at different levels. “The United States seeks to engage all countries to explore areas for cooperation on addressing the climate crisis, including Pakistan,” a spokesperson for the State Department had told Dawn when asked why Pakistan was being ignored on such a sensitive issue.

“The Leaders Summit on Climate is only one of several major climate-related events in the run-up to COP-26, which will be a global event,” the official said while explaining why Pakistan was not invited to President Biden’s summit.

Last week the Foreign Office in Islamabad had claimed that the country was not invited to the White House summit because it was “one of the lowest emitters — with less than one per cent of the global emissions”.

Responding to a question on the alleged snub by the US, the FO spokesman had said: “The Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change hosted by President Biden reconvenes the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together leaders from countries responsible for approximately 80 per cent of global emissions and GDP.”

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2021

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