‘Flood victims need world help more than sympathy’

PM says had ‘encouraging’ interactions with world leaders

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged the international community to turn their sentiments of solidarity for flood-stricken people of Pakistan into action for much-needed relief and rehabilitation of the suffering humanity.

The premier, who is currently on a US visit to attend the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, told a private television channel that he had “encouraging” interactions with world leaders on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the 193-member world body. He mentioned his bilateral meetings with Austrian chancellor, Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez and others, saying the objective was to sensitise the international community using the United Nations platform about the devastation caused by disastrous floods in Pakistan.

He said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his address at the high-level debate on the issues of global peace and security, particularly mentioned Pakistan “thrice” to highlight the worrisome situation caused by climate change-induced floods.

He said the UN chief also talked about showing solidarity with flood-hit Pakistan. However, that solidarity needed to be turned into action, he added. Asked whether the Kashmir issue, besides floods, would also be part of his speech at the UNGA, the prime minister replied, “Why not.”

Meanwhile, Shehbaz met French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the 77th UNGA session. It was the first meeting between a Pakistani leader and President Macron following the diplomatic ties got affected after caricatures published by a French magazine following which mass protests broke out in Pakistan.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral ties as well as matters of regional and international importance. The premier also held a meeting with Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, during which the two leaders agreed to further deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation, especially in areas of economic and trade, energy and connectivity, cultural contacts, and people-to-people links.

The prime minister conveyed that Pakistan highly valued the supreme leader’s strong and steadfast support for the just struggle of the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). He expressed the hope that on the invitation extended by him, President Raisi would be able to undertake an early visit to Pakistan.

Earlier, Shehbaz Sharif also met Federal Chancellor of Republic of Austria Karl Nehammer. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen mutual cooperation in multiple fields. The prime minister also met his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez and discussed bilateral cooperation, besides exchanging views on matters of regional and international importance.

Shehbaz appreciated the support and solidarity of the Spanish government in the wake of climate-induced massive floods in Pakistan and thanked his Spanish counterpart for the relief assistance extended by Spain to the affected people. He also shared the details of the devastation caused by the floods to crops, housing, livestock and critical infrastructure.