Kakar reminds world of unkept flood aid pledge

Published September 23, 2023
NEW YORK: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar addresses the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, on Friday.—Reuters
NEW YORK: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar addresses the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, on Friday.—Reuters

• Points out India is trying to impose ‘final solution’ of Kashmir dispute
• Cautions against attempts to selectively provide climate funds on basis of geopolitical considerations
• Says Pakistan’s shift to geo-economics is underway

UNITED NATIONS: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar urged the global community on Friday to fulfil the commitments they made to Pakistan after last year’s devastating floods and help implement its recovery plans.

Mr Kakar, who is the first interim leader to address the UN General Assembly, used his maiden UN speech to highlight the country’s efforts to revive its ailing economy but also talked about the threat of terrorism confronting Pakistan and Islamabad’s efforts to improve ties with all neighbouring states.

He also touched on issues of peacekeepers facing challenges from terrorist groups, Islamophobia, etc.

At a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva in January, dozens of nations and international institutions had pledged more than $10 billion to help Pakistan recover and rebuild from the last year’s floods that the UN called “a climate disaster of monumental scale”.

“Pakistan is gratified by the commitments of over $10.5 billion for its comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction,” PM Kakar told the UNGA on Friday.

“Specific projects are being submitted to ensure timely funding and execution of the plan,” he said. “I hope our development partners will accord priority to allocation (release) of funds.”

Mr Kakar pointed out that recovery efforts had already cost Pakistan $13bn.

The epic floods submerged a third of the country, killed 1,700 and displaced over 8 million people, destroyed vital infrastructure, and caused over $30bn in damage to Pakistan’s economy.

But UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a news briefing in March that only 40 per cent of the pledges were fulfilled, as donor-fatigue prevented greater contributions.

Triple challenge

PM Kakar, however, called for a better understanding of Pakistan’s problems.

“Pakistan’s triple —food, fuel and finance — challenge, is a prime illustration of the impacts of Covid, conflicts and climate on developing countries,” he said. “Pakistan is also one of the worst affected countries from the impacts of climate change.”

The prime minister recalled that far-reaching commitments were also made at Thursday’s UN-sponsored summit on sustainable development goals (SDGs) in New York. But “we must ensure” that those pledges are fulfilled, he stressed.

He highlighted several key pledges that must be fulfilled: implementation of the SDG stimulus; the re-channeling of unused Special Drawing Rights (finances) for development; the expansion of concessional lending by Multilateral Development Banks; and resolution of the debt problems of the 59 countries in debt distress.

Mr Kakar said Pakistan was also looking forward to the fulfillment of the climate change commitments made at COP28 by the developed world: to provide over $100bn in annual climate finance.

He suggested allocating at least half of such finance for adaptation in developing countries; opera­tionalising the Fund and funding arrang­ements for loss and damage; and accelerating the carbon emission mitigation targets to “keep alive” the goal of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

“Attempts to selectively provide these funds on the basis of geo-political considerations should be resisted,” he warned.

Economic recovery

The caretaker premier also underlined Pakistan’s commitment to rapid economic recovery.

“We will stabilise our foreign exchange reserves and our currency; expand domestic revenues and, most importantly, mobilise significant domestic and external investment,” he said.

Pakistan has established a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to expedite investment decisions. Twenty-eight projects have been identified in priority sectors — agriculture, mining, energy, and IT — for implementation in collaboration with Pakistan’s partners.

“Pakistan’s long-term shift to geo-economics is well underway. The second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been initiated covering railway, infrastructure, and manufacturing projects,” Mr Kakar said. “Pakistan also looks forward to the early implementation of the connectivity projects with Central Asia.”

Noting that development depends on peace, he said Pakistan was situated in one of the least economically integrated regions in the world.

‘Key to peace’

“Pakistan believes that regions develop together. Therefore, Pak­is­tan desires peaceful and produ­ctive relations with all our neighbours, including India. Kashmir is the key to peace between Pakistan and India,” he said,

The prime minister, however, reminded the UN community that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute was one of the oldest issues on the agenda of the Security Council.

Since August 5, 2019, Delhi has deployed 900,000 troops in India-held Jammu and Kashmir to impose the “final solution” for the disputed region.

“The UN Security Council must secure the implementation of its resolutions on Kashmir. The UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan should be reinforced. Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons,” Mr Kakar said.

The prime minister assured the international community that peace in Afghanistan was a strategic imperative for Pakistan and Islamabad shared their concerns with respect to Afghanistan, particularly the rights of women and girls.

“Yet, we advocate continued humanitarian assistance to a destitute Afghan population in which Afghan girls and women are the most vulnerable,” he said.

Mr Kakar also called for the revival of Afghan economy and implementation of the connectivity projects with Central Asia.

Terrorism condemned

“Pakistan’s first priority is to prevent and counter all terrorism from and within Afghanistan. Pakistan condemns the cross- border terrorist attacks against Pakistan by the [banned] TTP, Daesh and other groups operating from Afghanistan,” he said,

“We have sought Kabul’s support and cooperation to prevent these attacks. However, we are also taking necessary measures to end this externally encouraged terrorism.”

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2023



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