WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Thursday that Pakistan opposes any reforms that expand the United Nations Security Council to bring India into the fold.
Pakistan’s UN mission and its allies have worked to foil such efforts repeatedly and even quite recently as well, the foreign minister said adding that the UN reforms are a possibility but expanding the Security Council membership would not be a correct reform.
Addressing a press conference at the Pakistan Embassy, Bilawal also said climate crisis would be one issue where Pakistan would be willing to work with India and other countries. He said that the 10 climate stressed nations should become one voice to press developed countries to form a green financing mechanism.
Responding to a question about forming a regional bloc for the purpose, the foreign minister said, “With all the caveats that I have already given, principally it’s right, that on climate change issue we should work together. When I urge the US and China to work together on this, I should have the moral strength to admit that whatever the differences, India and Pakistan should work together on this topic too.”
He further said, “We have difficulties, we don’t have a reciprocal partner over there, August 2019 has made it impossible for us to engage, a whole host of reasons, but if there is any one area where on a principal basis, not only Pakistan and India -- but other powers and other countries that don’t necessarily get along -- this is perhaps the one issue that we should regardless of everything else be working towards combating [climate change], because whatever have seen, what we have experienced, I would not wish this upon my worst enemy.”
Bilawal said that Imran Khan government’s policies had hurt Pakistan, its people and its foreign policy but over the last six months the country’s relations with other countries, including the US, had significantly improved.
He said that Imran Khan’s demands were not about restoring democracy or that civil supremacy should prevail, his demands had been that the establishment should not play its constitutional role but a controversial role to bring him back into power.
Referring to the cipher message that was sent from the Pakistani Embassy here that Imran Khan later termed “foreign conspiracy to topple his government”, the foreign minister said that Asad Majeed, the former ambassador to the US, was merely doing his job by sending a telegram, whereas it was Imran Khan who did an irresponsible thing.
“I expect my ambassadors to tell me facts, and they should have confidence that whatever they’re reporting through telegram communication would remain classified and secret between the ministry and embassy,” Bilawal said, adding when Imran Khan is at fault and punishing Asad Majeed would be unfair.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a meeting with Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lauded the US assistance for flood relief, saying that magnitude of the disaster necessitated sustained and long-term cooperation.
The foreign minister shared with Chairman Menendez impact of the devastation caused by the floods. He underscored that it was a compound crisis with humanitarian, health, food security and economic dimensions.
He urged personal leadership of Chairman Menendez in mobilising support in the US Congress, which historically had stood by the people of Pakistan during such natural disasters. The foreign minister said that the flood crisis provided an opportunity to Pakistan to build back better, greener and resilient infrastructure.
Given the huge investment required, Pakistan viewed the US government and private sector as important partners in this task. Chairman Menendez conveyed his condolences and sympathies to the people and the Government of Pakistan on the devastation caused by the floods.
He assured his support in enabling Pakistan to overcome this challenge. He said the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the US was an important milestone.
Both countries had achieved a lot working together. Chairman Menendez praised the Pakistani diaspora’s role in strengthening Pakistan-US ties. He underscored the importance of Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s regular engagement with the foreign minister.
Both sides also discussed peace and stability in the region, including Afghanistan, Indian repression in IIOJK and its illegal actions of August 5, 2019. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a meeting with Senator James Risch, Ranking Member US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, highlighted the ongoing devastating impact of the floods in Pakistan, which resulted in more than one-third of the country being submerged in water.
The floods affected 33 million people, more than the population of Australia, the foreign minister stressed. Appreciating the $66.1 million US assistance, he highlighted “Pakistan needs much more as initial estimates indicate damages of more than $30 billion.”
The foreign minister underscored the challenges being faced by the affected population, including impending health catastrophes, particularly outbreaks of malaria, dengue and water-borne diseases in the affected population, food insecurity and more.
He emphasised Pakistan is a victim of climate change despite being minimally responsible for greenhouse emissions. Pakistan is committed to building back better and greener climate resilient infrastructure but the scale of calamity necessitated international support, Bilawal said and added that the US Congress had historically stood by Pakistan in natural disasters and urged continuing cooperation.
Referring to people in waist-deep waters searching for signs of their devastated towns, the senator empathised with the foreign minister on the devastation wreaked by the floods. Both sides also discussed regional issues, including the need for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. The foreign minister invited the senator to visit Pakistan to witness the first-hand impact of the floods.
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