All aid will be subject to third-party audit, Shehbaz assures donors

Published September 25, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. — Photo courtesy: PMO
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. — Photo courtesy: PMO

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has robust and transparent mechanisms in place to ensure that all aid provided to the country was being delivered to those in need, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Saturday as he assured donors that he would ensure a third-party audit of every penny received by the country through “well-reputed international companies”.

The prime minister, who left the US on Friday evening, was quoted by the Associated Press of Pakistan as saying that he had met top officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) and appealed for a moratorium on loan repayments and deferment of other conditions until the flood situation improves.

They sounded very supportive, he said, stressing that a delay can have major consequences, both for economy and for Pakistani people.

Editorial: Pakistan needs debt relief to prevent economic collapse post floods. It's time the world steps up

He also revealed, in an interview with the Associated Press, that Pakistan may have to import about a million tonnes of wheat and large quantities of fertiliser, to off-set losses due to destroyed farmland and closed factories.

Earlier, the prime minister’s address to the UNGA created the impression that Pakistan was seeking reparations for the damages caused by the climate change-induced floods.

This led to default speculations, first raised by The Financial Times in a report published on Friday. This prompted concerns among the Pakistani team at the UN, and it was then that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had to reassure the world that “Pakistan is not going to default.”

Talking to the media immediately after the prime minister’s address, the foreign minister explained that Pakistan was not seeking reparations “as no one has succeeded in getting reparations.”

However, climate justice for Pakistan would mean that richer countries whose “industrialisation has contributed far more to climate change than Pakistan’s, [should] engage with Pakistan in a sympathetic manner.”

Such explanations, however, angered about 300 Pakistani Americans who gathered outside the UN building as the prime minister spoke.

“They are staying at some of the most expensive hotels like Plaza and Park Hayat, paying between $2,000 and $4,000 a room,” said Nasir Q. Khan, a New York resident.

However, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, when asked to comment on such claims said: “I will respond to these rumors when we return to Islamabad.”

Urging the international community to unfreeze Afghan assets, PM Shehbaz also said during his AP interview that by adhering to the Doha Agreement, the Taliban regime in Kabul has “a golden opportunity to ensure peace and progress for the people”.

About ties with India, he reiterated that India has to understand that unless and until the burning issue of Kashmir is resolved through peaceful talks “we will not be able to live in peace”.

Separately, he said in a tweet that Pakistan desired peaceful relations with India, but Delhi should reverse its post-August 2019 actions and stop the process of demographic change in India-held Jammu and Kashmir

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2022

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