UN chief calls for de-escalation in Indo-Pak tensions
World should ‘look at Pakistan through a wider frame’: Guterres
Statesman Report
ISLAMABAD: United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres on Sunday emphasised the importance to “de-escalate, both militarily and verbally” while talking about relations between Pakistan and India.
Guterres was addressing a joint press conference along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, following a meeting. While speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that his sitting with Guterres was the “the most interesting and rewarding meeting that I have had with you, so far”.
Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s concerns over India’s actions in occupied Kashmir and last year’s decision to strip the region of its special status, terming it a “unilateral approach”. He directed the UN chief’s attention to the ongoing lockdown and communications blackout in occupied Kashmir and said that “all shades of Kashmiri opinions, barring the BJP mindset, have rejected those actions”.
“Diplomacy and dialogue remain the only tools that guarantee peace and stability with solutions in accordance with the Charter of United Nations and resolutions of the Security Council,” Guterres told the media, adding that he has repeatedly “reiterated his offer to exercise my good offices should both sides ask”.
The UN chief also lauded Pakistan’s contributions to UN peacekeeping efforts as well as the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, which was held last year. Calling the Kartarpur initiative a “symbol of interfaith harmony, a unique experiment in cross-border ties”, the UN chief said that the opening of the corridor showed “Pakistan’s commitment to peace”.
Guterres also noted Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process, repatriation of refugees and to combat the growing threat of global warming by starting initiatives like the Billion Trees Tsunami campaign.
Both officials stressed that for successful repatriation of Afghan refugees, it was important to have a roadmap and a “pull effect”. They urged the international community to assist in creating a safe and secure environment for the refugees to return.
The UN chief also acknowledged the country’s efforts to combat terrorism, noting that until a few years back, Islamabad seemed like a “military camp” due to the threats posed by Taliban based in Pakistan. Now, he said, the federal capital was designated as a family station for UN staff.
Pakistan’s ‘vulnerability due to climate change’
Earlier in his speech, the UN chief said that Pakistan, like other developing countries, faced “disproportionate vulnerability” due to climate change but “has contributed little” to it.
“In the past decade, Pakistan has lost some 10,000 lives to climate-related disasters, including 1200 who died due to a terrible heat wave in Karachi in 2015,” stated the UN chief to emphasis the threat the country faces from climate change.
Guterres told the audience that the Indus valley was vulnerable to flooding and coastal communities “face the prospect of being swamped by rising sea levels”. He also mentioned that Pakistan faces a locust emergency due to climate disruption.
“Global warming is leading to global swarming but the biggest worry for Pakistan is water,” stated the UN chief. He further said that this was true for all the people of Central, South and East Asia, who rely on water from the Himalayas.
To highlight the threat, the UN chief spoke about the threat Pakistan’s agricultural sector faces due to water scarcity as it contributes towards 75% of Pakistan’s exports and produce 90% of the nation’s food supply.
“They [farmer] depend on rainfall and irrigation from rivers fared by mountain glaciers,” stated the UN chief. He said that 80% of Pakistan’s water use is for agriculture which was under threat.
“Pakistan is one of the 15 most water-stressed countries in the world,” said the UN chief.
To highlight the gravity of the situation, Guterres told the audience that due to rising temperatures and melting glaciers “Pakistan’s goals for reducing poverty and guaranteeing food security” were also at risk.