UNITED NATIONS – Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif makes his debut on world stage when addresses the 77session of UN General Assembly on Friday in which he is set to highlight the massive devastation left behind by the deadly climate-induced floods, and appeal for international help to deal with the catastrophe.
The Pakistani leader is the 12th speaker in the 193-member Assembly’s high-level debate on its 4th day in which some 140 world leader are participating, It is the first in-person session of the Assembly following the COVID-19 pandemic. During his series of meetings with his counterparts from around the world, Prime Minister Sharif has been briefing them on the floods that have inundated one-third of Pakistan, inflicting huge damage to human lives, infrastructure, livestock and crops. “Pakistan is passing through difficult times and the havoc wreaked by floods, which is obvious before the world, needs serious attention,” he said in his video statement on Wednesday. Some world leaders have responded by making dramatic appeals to the international community to come forward and help Pakistan. Opening the debate on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made a solidarity visit to Pakistan earlier this month, told world leaders that Pakistan is “drowning not only in floodwater, but in debt.”
On Wednesday, the UN chief went on to say at a private meeting with world leaders on climate change, “We have all seen the appalling images from Pakistan, and this is just at 1.2 degrees of global warming and we are heading for over 3 degrees.” And on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden told the General Assembly,, “Pakistan is still underwater needs help.” On his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing his condolences, said, “we would like to call out to the international community to help the people of Pakistan as they’re going through this most unfortunate and painful time.”
Similarly, many other world leaders have drawn attention to the floods in Pakistan. Following Guterres’ trip to Pakistan, the UN issued a $160 million flash appeal for help Pakistan cope with initial phases of the calamity, but so far it is not yet fully funded. In his address, the Prime Minister will also underscore the need for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, one of the oldest items on the agenda of the Security Council, and reaffirm Pakistan’s principled stand on the issue. This year’s UNGA is taking place against a backdrop of complex, interconnected crises. Conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 have exacerbated inequality, poverty, and hunger across the planet, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.