Islamabad, SEP 30 /DNA/ – Yesterday, Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar and officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs bid farewell to outgoing Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood. It was an occasion to pay tribute to his stellar diplomatic career, sagacity, foresight on foreign policy and his humane and humble nature. His leadership and deep sense of commitment to the country are going to be a strong legacy in Foreign Service of Pakistan.
The Prime Minister visited New York from 19 to 23 September to attend the high-level segment of the 77th UNGA Session. The Foreign Minister and other members of the Cabinet accompanied him.
The Prime Minister attended several high-level meetings and events, held bilateral meetings with Heads of State/Government of key countries, including France, Iran, European Union, Japan, Spain, Austria, Belgium and others, attended a reception hosted by President Biden and met the UN Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, as well as the Managing Director of the IMF and President of the World Bank.
A key objective of the visit was to highlight the colossal damage caused by the floods in Pakistan. The Prime Minister drew attention of the international community to this calamity in his address to the UN General Assembly and urged mobilization of resources for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Pakistan. He underlined that this disaster was the impact of climate change to which Pakistan has contributed minimally.
Prime Minister conveyed the same message in all his interactions and advocated the need for global action to halt climate change and to compensate developing countries for loss and damage from climate impact.
There were very positive responses from several of the Prime Minister’s interlocuters including the French President, UN Secretary-General, the Managing Director of IMF, and the President of the World Bank and some other key leaders, including US Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mr. John Kerry. They all agreed to help Pakistan mobilize international support.
An international conference focusing on sustainable re-building, rehabilitation and reconstruction will be convened once the damage and needs assessment and a comprehensive plan are prepared.
During his address to the General Assembly and in other interactions, the Prime Minister also outlined Pakistan’s perspective on a number of other issues of concern to Pakistan and the wider international community.
He drew attention to the grave situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the fact that this dispute was the main source of tension between Pakistan and India. To resume a dialogue and ease tensions, India should reverse its illegal and unilateral actions taken since 5 July 2019. The PM invited India to work for peace and allow both countries to focus on the alleviation of poverty, disease and hunger.
The Foreign Minister also had an extensive program. You would have noticed he attended various high-level meetings and events including the Closed-Door Leaders’ Roundtable on COP-27, the Food Security Summit co-organized by the EU, AU and the US, the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir, OIC Contact Group on Muslims in Europe, the OIC Committee of Six on Palestine, the Ministerial Meeting of the UN Group of Friends of Mediation, and the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI).
The Foreign Minister also chaired the Annual Coordination Meeting (ACM) of the OIC Foreign Ministers, as well as the G-77 and China Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers, as you know Pakistan is chairing both the forums, and hosted a meeting of Young Foreign Ministers, and a High-Level Event on ‘Loss & Damage: New and Additional Financing’ organized by Pakistan.
The Foreign Minister also held bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts, and had extensive media and think-tank interactions.
The Minister of State also had various bilateral interactions, besides participating in several events including on “Feminist Foreign Policy”, hosted by the German Foreign Minister, Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and High-Level meeting on UN Peacekeeping that was hosted by the Irish Foreign Minister.
Later Foreign Minister Bilawal embarked on a four-day trip to Washington D.C. accompanied by Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar. During the visit, the Foreign Foreign Minister had a very productive meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkon during which U.S. announced additional $10 million for Pakistan’s flood relief efforts bringing the total contribution to $66.1 million. Foreign Minister Bilawal also delivered a talk at Wilson Center. The Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also also called on Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator James Risch, Ranking Member Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar also met US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To recall briefly, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif led the Pakistan delegation to the Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Samarkand on 15-16 September. All eight Heads of State/Government of SCO member states attended the Summit meeting in person.
The Prime Minister’s statement at the Summit conveyed Pakistan’s vision for the strategic direction of SCO in the face of global political and economic transformation. The Prime Minister presented a compelling case for collective action by SCO countries to combat the ravages of climate change.
You would also recall that at the invitation of the British government, the Prime Minister represented Pakistan at the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in London on 19 September.
Yesterday, Prime Minister received a telephone call from the Eyptian President, H.E. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. The Egyptian President offered condolences to the people of Pakistan over the loss of precious lives and devastation caused by the floods in Pakistan and also announced relief assistance from the Egypt. Prime Minister thanked the brotherly people of Egypt and also took the opportunity to assure Pakistan’s support to the Egyptian Presidency of COP-27 for a successful Conference.
It is matter of grave concern that the Indian occupation forces have martyred five more Kashmiri youth in extra-judicial killings and fake encounters in Kulgam and Kupwara areas in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in the past week.
We also continue to draw attention of the international community to the deteriorating situation particularly the heath of Kashmiri political prisoners including Hurriyet leaders languishing in different jails of India and in IIOJK and we demand their immediate release.
We also condemn India’s illegal and unprovoked, literally unjustified economic assault on IIOJK manifested by the recent halting of fresh fruit laden trucks from Kashmir valley by Indian occupation forces, this is kind of an undeclared economic blockade of Kashmiri fruit growers, and a deliberate attempt in our view to destroy the economy of occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to punish the Kashmiri people for their struggle for right to self-determination.
On the floods and the ongoing international assistance and relief efforts, we keep on updating you. As we transition from rescue and relief phase of response to this unprecedented climate catastrophe, to the more challenging rehabilitation and reconstruction phase that is upcoming, we are also grateful to the unparalleled generosity and resilience of the Pakistanis who have contributed in cash and kind to help their brethren.
We are also thankful to international friends and partners for sending 133 relief flights, besides ships, trucks, and goodness trains to help the flood victims.
We are determined to overcome this adversity with determination, grit, perseverance, and mobilization of national and international efforts.
I thank you and am ready to take your questions.