Pakistan eighth most vulnerable country to climate change: Bilawal Bhutto

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NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Friday Pakistan was looking for realistic justice for the climate-induced disasters it is facing, not reparations.

“We are not actively seeking climate reparations,” he told journalists at a news conference at UN headquarters in New York. “No one has thus far been successful in getting reparations. It’s a tall ask. We are seeking realistic climate justice.”

The foreign minister also referred to the UN secretary general’s recent suggestion of a climate-swap, countries trading their debt for climate-friendly policies.

As a UNDP report circulated by the media on Friday suggested that cash-strapped Pakistan needs to restructure its debt to avoid a default, Mr Bhutto-Zardari explained that Pakistan was not seeking restructuring of its debts as it could cause some to speculate that the country was going to default. “Let me make it clear. We’re nowhere near a default,” he said.

Explaining the fine difference between reparations and justice, his own address to the 77th UNGA focused on underlining the sufferings of his nation.

The foreign minister, while addressing a gathering of US scholars and experts at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Thursday, also sought world’s support for flood victims in Pakistan. “The scale and magnitude of flood losses in Pakistan is huge and the international community’s support is vital to complement rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts,” he said. “More than financial assistance, Pakistan needs climate justice and a green plan to rebuild its infrastructure and economy.”

Responding to a question about the removal of the PTI government, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said: “For the first time in our history, a prime minister was not hanged or removed from office and sent in exile, [rather] he was removed through the democratic, constitutional process of a vote of no confidence.”

The PDM government, he said, has created a balance, setting up a democratic and peaceful system in the country. “But unfortunately the powers, which have never wanted democracy in Pakistan and never wanted this transition to take succeed, are consistently trying to undermine and reverse this progress,” he said.

He said Mr Khan wanted to bring the army, intelligence agencies and the judiciary under his personal control.

About the recent floods, he said Pakistan was the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change, with initial estimates pointed to losses in excess of $30 billion. He also highlighted the government’s measures in dealing with this calamity, despite challenges.

Appreciating the solidarity and support extended by the US for the flood survivors, the minister reiterated the importance Pakistan attached to its longstanding ties with the US and its commitment to reinforce this bilateral relationship. He also said Pakistan would continue to work with the international community to achieve peace, development, and stability in Afghanistan.

While reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to peace, he said rampant discrimination and persecution of Muslims in India, driven by the violent extremist ideology of Hindutva, was a matter of great concern.

He said in the occupied Kashmir, India was making demographic changes and disenfranchising the Muslims by redrawing the electoral constituencies.

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