Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to make his debut on the world stage when he will address the 77session of UN General Assembly today (Friday).
The prime minister is likely to highlight the massive devastation left behind by the deadly climate-induced floods, besides appealing for international help to deal with the catastrophe.
He will be the 12th speaker in the 193-member assembly’s high-level debate on its 4th day in which some 140 world leader are participating. It is the first in-person session of the assembly since the Covid-19 pandemic.
During his series of meetings with his counterparts from around the world, Sharif has been briefing them on the cataclysmic floods that have inundated one-third of the country, inflicting huge damage to human lives, infrastructure, livestock and crops.
“Pakistan is passing through difficult times and the havoc wreaked by floods, which is obvious before the world, needs serious attention,” he had said in a video statement on Wednesday. Some world leaders have responded by making dramatic appeals to the international community to come forward and help Pakistan.
Opening the debate on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made a solidarity visit to Pakistan earlier this month, told world leaders that Pakistan is “drowning not only in floodwater, but in debt”. “We have all seen the appalling images from Pakistan,” he said the following day during a private meeting with world leaders on climate change. And on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden urged world leaders to help “underwater” Pakistan. “We would like to call out to the international community to help the people of Pakistan as they’re going through this most unfortunate and painful time” Turkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said.
Similarly, many other world leaders have drawn attention to massive floods in Pakistan.
Following Guterres’ trip to Pakistan, the UN issued a $160 million flash appeal to help Pakistan cope with initial phases of the calamity, but so far it is not yet fully funded. In his address, the prime minister will also underscore the need for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, which is one of the oldest items on the agenda of the Security Council. This year’s UNGA is taking place against a backdrop of complex and interconnected crises. Conflicts, climate change and Covid-19 have exacerbated inequality, poverty and hunger across the planet, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.