NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari chaired a conference of young foreign ministers from different countries and exchanged views about how to tackle the international problems currently facing the world.
Young foreign ministers from Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Qatar, Serbia and other countries participated in the meeting. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar also accompanied Bilawal. Speaking on the occasion, Bilawal said the young foreign ministers not only will have to fight the challenges with regard to peace and development, but also struggle for ensuring equal economic rights for the posterity.
Addressing the young foreign ministers, Bilawal said they could play an important role in the international community’s cooperation in ensuring equal rights for the future generations. The foreign minister said the very objective of their meeting was to frame the future course of action for a better future of the world. All the young foreign ministers expressed their determination to support and assist Bilawal Bhutto in realising the cherished objective.
Meanwhile, chairing a high-level event on ‘Loss & Damage: New and Additional Financing’ organised by Pakistan on the sidelines of the 77th UN General Assembly session on Sept 19, Bilawal proposed creation of a separate loss and damage financing window by the international financial institutions, including development of a standing debt restructuring modality by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), for generating an immediate response to the climate-induced disasters in developing countries.
The event was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry (COP-27 Presidency), all major blocs in the climate change negotiations, as well as representative of the Green Climate Fund.
Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar also attended the meeting. Bilawal highlighted the proposal put forward by Pakistan, as Chair of the G77 and China, to include discussions of loss and damage finance as an agenda item at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP27).
Bilawal expressed the hope that a decision would be reached for a financial mechanism to compensate the developing countries for “loss and damage”.
Bilawal highlighted that the recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan were a clear manifestation of the unprecedented frequency and intensity of extreme climate events.
He mentioned that the floods impacted one in seven Pakistanis (33 million). Initial estimates suggested that the total damage caused by this climate-induced disaster could be upward of $30 billion, equivalent to 10% of Pakistan’s GDP.
The foreign minister emphasized that over the years, the developing countries had disproportionately suffered from the vagaries of climate change while contributing a miniscule amount to the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. For example, while contributing only 0.8% to GHG emissions, Pakistan was consistently among the top 10 most vulnerable countries in the world vis-à-vis the impact of climate change, he remarked.
Bilawal also met with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday. He stressed that “a peaceful, stable, prosperous Afghanistan is a priority for Pakistan”. The foreign minister highlighted Pakistan’s facilitative efforts in building regional consensus on the way forward in Afghanistan, including through the Extended Troika mechanism.
He also highlighted various steps taken by Pakistan to support bilateral engagements with Afghanistan, as well as extensive facilitation of international humanitarian assistance.
During a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Ms. Anniken Huitfeldt on Tuesday, Bilawal underlined the importance of early conclusion of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The two foreign ministers, who met here on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, reviewed the state of bilateral relations and agreed to continue joint efforts to strengthen and diversify cooperation particularly in trade, investment, development and other areas.
Noting the presence of prominent Norwegian companies in Pakistan, the foreign minister hoped that more companies would benefit from the government’s attractive investment policy.
Both ministers appreciated the positive contribution of Pakistani diaspora in Norway. The foreign minister also underlined the importance of enhancing legal migration opportunities for Pakistanis.
During his meeting with Nick Clegg, President Global Affairs at Meta, Bilawal said Pakistan’s IT sector had registered a strong growth in the recent past opening new opportunities for platforms like Meta to expand its operations in Pakistan. He thanked Meta for donating Rs125 million for humanitarian assistance to Pakistan in the wake of the deadly floods. He said, “These are testing times for Pakistan and this donation would be helpful for our flood relief operations”.
The foreign minister said after the floods, the task of full recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction could not be accomplished without the support of private sector. The foreign minister also met his Chinese counterpart, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This was their fourth meeting since the foreign minister assumed office in April 2022.
During the meeting, the two sides had a comprehensive exchange of views on the entire spectrum of bilateral partnership and multilateral cooperation, including at the United Nations. The foreign minister conveyed profound gratitude to the Chinese leadership, government and people for China’s prompt support and robust assistance to Pakistan in the wake of catastrophic floods, which was a true reflection of time-tested ‘All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership’ between Pakistan and China.
The foreign minister also called on the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yusafzai.