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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif warned on Friday that his country’s worst floods were a sign of climate catastrophes to come around the world, as he demanded justice for developing countries that bear little responsibility for the warming.
Unprecedented monsoon rains flooded a third of the country — an area the size of the United Kingdom — killing nearly 1,600 people and displacing more than seven million.
“What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” he said in an impassioned speech to the United Nations General Assembly, adding that lost homes, destroyed livelihoods and flooded farmland had since many people, life was “changed forever”.
Sharif said injustice was inherent in the crisis, with his country of 220 million people at “ground zero” of climate change but responsible for less than one percent of carbon emissions.
“Why are my people paying the price of global warming so high for no fault of their own? Nature has unleashed her fury on Pakistan without looking at our carbon footprint, which is next to nothing,” he said.
“It is therefore entirely reasonable to expect an approximation of justice for this loss and damage,” he continued, adding his voice to growing calls among developing countries for financial compensation from rich polluters.
The issue of “loss and damage” payments is deeply controversial.
Supporters argue that historic polluters have a moral imperative to pay for the loss and damage already caused by the proliferation of extreme weather events that have not been prevented by measures to mitigate or adapt to global warming.
The idea has so far been shot down by rich countries, but UN chief Antonio Guterres endorsed the proposal a few days ago and it will be discussed at the next UN climate summit in Egypt.
>>> Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: “The scale of climate disaster in Pakistan is truly apocalyptic”
Pakistan has estimated total financial losses at $30 billion, and on Friday its finance minister Miftah Ismail tweeted that the province was seeking debt relief from bilateral creditors.
Turning his attention to neighboring Afghanistan, Sharif urged the international community to heed a $4.2 billion UN appeal for humanitarian and economic aid and free up the country’s financial reserves, frozen since the Taliban took over. power last year.
“Pakistan is working to encourage respect for the rights of Afghan girls and women to education and work. However, at this point, isolating the Afghan Interim Government may worsen the suffering of the already impoverished Afghan people,” he said. he.
The United States recently created an external fund to manage Afghanistan’s frozen assets, saying it does not trust the Taliban.
In Kashmir, the Himalayan territory disputed between Pakistan and India since the two countries’ independence from Britain, Sharif accused New Delhi of “illegal demographic changes” by opening the Muslim-majority region to mass migration from Hindu Indians.
He called on India to “walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing its illegal steps of August 15, 2019,” when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy.
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