NEW YORK — Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday drew attention of the world countries to the devastation left behind by catastrophic floods in the South Asian country.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, he said: “As I stand here today to tell the story of my country, Pakistan, my heart and mind have not been able to leave home.”
“My real worry, is about the next stage of this challenge, when the cameras leave, and the story just shifts away to conflicts like the Ukraine, my question is, will we be left alone, to cope with a crisis we did not create,” Sharif asked the world leaders.
The South Asian nation is witnessing super floods caused by “monsoon on steroids,” a calamity that has affected more than 33 million people, and resulted in the death of nearly 1,600, and caused damages to private and public infrastructure worth $30 billion, according to official estimates.
Sharif said they have saved many lives during the last 12 weeks but some 11 million people will be pushed further below the poverty line, while others will drift to cramped urban shelters, leaving little room for climate-smart rebuilding.
“For now, we have mobilised all available resources towards the national relief effort, and repurposed all budget priorities including development funds, to the rescue and first-order needs of millions.
“But at this point, the gap between our urgent needs and available resources is amplified by the sheer, unprecedented scale of the disaster. Our manpower and resources are totally overwhelmed,” he said.
Monsoon season in Pakistan, like in other countries in the region, usually results in heavy rains, but this year has been the wettest since 1961.
“Pakistan has never seen a more stark and devastating example of the impact of global warming. Life in Pakistan has changed forever,” he added.
He warned what happened in Pakistan, will not stay there, but spread to other parts of the world.
“We look for peace with all our neighbours, including India. Sustainable peace and stability in South Asia, however, remains contingent upon a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he said,
He criticised India for its actions in August 2019 to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Sharif also expressed deep concerns over growing Islamophobia, especially “the officially sponsored campaign of oppression against India’s over 200 million Muslims.”
“They are subjected to discriminatory laws and policies, Hijab bans, attacks on mosques, and lynchings by Hindu mobs. I am particularly concerned by the calls for ‘genocide’ against India’s Muslims by some extremist groups,” he added. — AA
Photo: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing the UN General Assembly.