Pakistan seeks 'long-term' peace with India: PM Shehbaz

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 23, 2022. — AFP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City on September 23, 2022. — AFP

  • PM highlights peace with India is only possible through a "just and lasting" solution to IIOJK.
  • PM Shehbaz says country's urgent priority was to ensure rapid economic growth.
  • He adds Pakistan will work to preserve global peace.

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday said that Pakistan is willing to make peace with all its neighbouring countries, including India.

Addressing the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, the premier said that Pakistan wants “long-term” peace with India that is only possible through a "just and lasting" solution to the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

"India must take credible steps to create enabling environment for constructive engagement," said the PM, adding that it should "demonstrate its sincerity and willingness, to walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing its illegal steps of 15 August 2019, and ending forth-with, the process of demographic change."

The prime minister said that Kashmiris are facing extrajudicial killings, incarceration, custodial torture and death at the hands of Indian forces.

He continued to say that India is seeking to turn Kashmir — a Muslim-majority region — into a Hindu-majority territory.

Hoping that the world body and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will play their role in urging India to implement UN resolutions, PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan will stand by Kashmiris "until their right to self-determination is fully realised in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions."

'Ensuring rapid economic growth' 

At the outset of his address, the premier talked about the climate catastrophe in Pakistan that pushed one-third of the country under water.

The rain-induced floods have affected 33 million people, including women and children — who are at high risk of health hazards. He said that roads, bridges, and homes have been affected, while four million acres of crops have been washed away and more than a million animals have been killed.

Talking about climate change in Pakistan, PM said that the country has not played any part to trigger this calamity as Pakistan emits less than 1% of greenhouse gases but falls in the 10 most climate-vulnerable list of countries.

"Our glaciers are melting fast, our forests are burning, and our heat waves have crossed 53 degrees, making us the hottest place on the planet," he highlighted, saying that what happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.

During his address, PM Shehbaz thanked the UN chief and the countries for helping and assisting Pakistan during the ongoing crisis.

Talking about the relief measures, the premier said that the Pakistani government mobilised all available resources. "Why are my people paying the price of such high global warming through no fault of their own?" he questioned.

PM Shehbaz further said that the country's urgent priority was to ensure rapid economic growth and lift millions out of destitution and hunger. "To enable any such policy momentum, Pakistan needs a stable external environment," he added.

On Afghan people's plight

The premier also spoke about the plight of the Afghan people during his address and shared that Pakistan wants to see the country “at peace with itself and the world” while respecting and nurturing all its citizens indiscriminately.

He also spoke about the Afghan women and girls' right to education and work, while urging the world to avoid isolating the Afghan Interim Government, as it could “aggravate the suffering of the Afghan people, who are already destitute”.

“Constructive engagement and economic support are more likely to secure a positive response,” he said.

The premier said that a peaceful, prosperous, and connected Afghanistan is in everyone’s “collective interest”.

“We must avoid another civil war, rising terrorism, drug trafficking or new refugees — which none of Afghanistan’s neighbours is in a position to accommodate,” he stated.

He urged the international community to respond positively to the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for $4.2 billion in humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan and release Afghanistan’s financial reserves, essential to revive its banking system.

Condemning terrorism in all its forms, he said that the major terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan should be dealt with.

'Combating Islamophobia'

Shedding a light on the issue of Islamophobia, the PM said that the officially sponsored campaign of oppression against India’s over 200 million Muslims is the worst manifestation of Islamophobia.

PM Shehbaz said that he hopes that designating March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia should lead to concrete measures by the UN and the member states to combat this issue and promote interfaith harmony.

Palestinian issue 

The PM also called on Israel to put an immediate end to the blatant use of force and flagrant violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and the repeated desecration of the Al Aqsa mosque.

He stated that the just and lasting solution is the acceptance of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

'Pakistan will work to preserve global peace'

At the end of his speech, PM Shehbaz said that the Security Council and the General Assembly must play their respective roles under the UN Charter and that Security Council must be expanded.

He said that 11 new non-permanent members to make it more representative, democratic, transparent, effective and accountable which will paralyse the council’s decision-making, enlarge its representational deficit, and create new centres of privilege in violation of the principle of sovereign equality of member states.

"We must restore peace in Europe, avoid a war in Asia and resolve festering conflicts across the world," he said, adding that Pakistan will work with all those committed to the UN Charter’s principles — to restore the vision which created the United Nations and to equip this organisation with the capacity to preserve global peace and promote universal prosperity.