Why the people of Pakistan are paying the price for global warming according to Prime Minister Shehbaz

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday warned that his country’s worst floods were a sign of coming climate disasters around the world, as he called for justice for developing countries that bear little responsibility for global warming.

Unprecedented monsoon showers have flooded a third of the country – an area the size of the UK – killing nearly 1,600 people and displacing more than seven million people.

“What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” he said in an impassioned speech to the UN General Assembly, adding that homes lost, livelihoods decimated and land cultivated floods had meant that for many, life had “changed forever”.

Sharif said injustice was inherent in the crisis, with his country of 220 million people at “ground zero” for climate change but responsible for less than 1% of carbon emissions.

“Why are my people paying the price for such high global warming through no fault of their own? Nature has unleashed its fury on Pakistan without looking at our carbon footprint, which is almost zero,” he said.

“It is therefore entirely reasonable to expect some approximation of justice for such loss and damage,” he continued, adding his voice to growing calls from developing countries for financial compensation for wealthy polluters. .

Climate compensation

The issue of “loss and damage” payments is deeply controversial.

Proponents argue that historical polluters have a moral imperative to pay for the loss and damage already caused by increased extreme weather events, which have not been prevented by mitigation or adaptation to global warming.

The idea has so far been rejected by rich countries, but UN chief Antonio Guterres endorsed the proposal a few days ago and it is expected to be discussed at the upcoming UN summit on the climate in Egypt.

Read more: Floods in Pakistan have been made worse by climate change

Pakistan has estimated total financial losses at $30 billion and on Friday its finance minister, Miftah Ismail, tweeted that the country was seeking debt relief from bilateral creditors.

Turning his attention to neighboring Afghanistan, Sharif urged the international community to respond to the UN’s appeal for $4.2 billion for humanitarian and economic aid and to release the country’s financial reserves, frozen since the takeover by the Taliban last year.

“Pakistan is working to encourage respect for the rights of Afghan girls and women to education and work. Yet at this point, isolating the Afghan caretaker government could aggravate the suffering of the Afghan people, who are already helpless,” he said.

The United States recently created an external fund to manage the frozen assetsclaiming not to trust the Taliban.

Read more: Pakistan’s Kashmir Policy and the Way Forward

In Kashmir, the Himalayan territory disputed between Pakistan and India since the two countries’ independence from Britain, Sharif accused New Delhi of embarking on “illegal demographic changes” by opening the predominantly Muslim region to the mass migration of Hindu Indians.

He called on India to “walk the path of peace and dialogue by reversing its unlawful steps of August 15, 2019”, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy.

AFP with an additional contribution from GVS News Desk

Teresa H. Sadler