The driving force in international relations must be cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, and not confrontation, the Prime Minister of Pakistan told world leaders gathered virtually at the UN General Assembly.
In a pre-recorded video address to the Assembly’s annual high-level debate, Prime Minister Imran Khan, highlighted the importance of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
“This is also a time for us to reflect whether as the United Nations, we have been able to realize the promise we made collectively to our peoples,” he said.
Amid multifaceted threats to the foundations of the world order, the only way forward is through cooperation and not confrontation, he said, reaffirming his support for multilateralism.
Fighting the coronavirus pandemic
In his address, Prime Minister Khan informed the General Assembly of “smart lockdowns” employed by his country in its fight against COVID-19.
“We have not only managed to control the virus, stabilize our economy, but most importantly, we have been able to protect the poorest segment of our society from the worst fallouts of the lockdown,” he said, adding that in spite of the success, Pakistan is not out of the woods yet, like all other countries in the world.
He reminded the Assembly that with the “oneness” of humanity in an interconnected world, “no one is safe unless everyone is safe.”
Threat of climate change
Reiterating the threats posed by climate change, Prime Minister Khan called on world leaders to ensure that all commitments made in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change are fulfilled.
Pakistan’s contribution to carbon emissions is minimal, but it is one of the countries worst affected by the climate crisis, he said. As part of its efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change, his country will plant 10 billion trees over the next three years.
Attacks against Muslims
The Prime Minister voiced deep concern over rising religious hatred, increased nationalism and worsening global tensions, factors that have accentuated ‘Islamophobia’, resulting in attacks against Muslims in many countries.
He stressed that “wilful provocations” and “incitements to hate” must be universally outlawed, calling on the General Assembly to declare an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia.”
Prime Minister Khan accused India of State-sponsored Islamophobia, alleging that mosques have been destroyed, and at that Muslims have been killed and are at risk of losing their nationality due to discriminatory laws.
“Muslims were falsely blamed, vilified and victimized for spreading the coronavirus. They were denied medical attention and on many occasions, their businesses boycotted,” he said, noting that other religions are also at risk of being marginalized in India.
Peace in South Asia
Prime Minister Khan also underlined that for durable peace in the South Asian region, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved, on the basis of international legitimacy.
“The Security Council must prevent a disastrous conflict and secure the implementation of its own resolutions as it did in the case of East Timor,” he said, calling on the body to take “appropriate enforcement actions.”
He also noted the Intra-Afghan negotiations, that commenced earlier this month, and said that early return of Afghan refugees, sheltering in Pakistan, must be part of the political solution.
Wrapping up his address, Prime Minister Khan called on the UN Secretary-General to take the lead in preventing global conflicts. To that end, he urged the convening summit-level meetings to address regional hot-spots and resolve outstanding disputes.