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UN chief Antonio Guterres to take up issue of ‘Debt Swaps’ with IMF, WB for Pakistan

UN chief calls upon the international community to scale up their support for flood-hit Pakistan
United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres talking to media at Karachi Airport before departure from Pakistan, Saturday, September 10. APP photo
United Nation Secretary General Antonio Guterres talking to media at Karachi Airport before departure from Pakistan, Saturday, September 10. APP photo

KARACHI: Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres has said that UN will strongly advocate for ‘debt swaps’, with IMF and World Bank through which developing countries like Pakistan instead of paying a debt to foreign creditors will be able to use that money to invest in climate resilience, investments in sustainable infrastructure, and green transition of their economies.

“We will go on strongly advocating for these solutions in the meetings with IMF and World Bank, which will take place soon. And, also in G-20 meeting,” he said.

He stated this while talking to media persons on his arrival at old airport Karachi here on Saturday.

PPP chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal, and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah among others were also present on the occasion.

UN chief said that he had been strongly advocating for, what they could call ‘debt swaps’ and that was exactly Pakistan needed. ‘Instead of paying the debts being able to invest that money in what the country requires,’ he said.

António Guterres called upon the international community to scale up their support for flood-hit Pakistan.

He said, ‘We see here in Pakistan, the nature is striking back with devastating consequences,’ adding, ‘I have seen many disasters in the world but I have never seen climate carnage on these scales.’

“I have simply no words to describe what I have seen today,” UN chief said, adding that he had seen from emergence workers to ordinary people, who were helping their neighbours in this time of difficulty.

UNSG said that families had lost their houses and the farmers had lost their crops and their livestock.

“The most emotional moment for me during this visit was to listen to a group of women and men who have sacrificed their possessions, there was the possibility of rescue,” he said.

UN secretary general said the poor people had touched him deeply. “I want to pay tributes to gigantic efforts of the Pakistan authorities, civilian and military, national and regional,” he added.

Massive and urgent financial support for Pakistan was the need of the hour, he said adding this is not the question of solidarity, generosity, but it is the question of justice.

Pakistan is paying the price of what I have seen, which is created by others.

Climate Change caused by human activities is super-charging storms and catastrophes, he added.

UN chief said that burning of fossil fuel was eating our planet. The G-20 countries are responsible for 80 percent of that emissions.

He said that all countries with G-20 leading the way, must boost their national emission reduction targets every year until 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature limit is guaranteed.

“I have been demanding very clearly that the world must seriously adopt a programme of in-depth relief for developing countries including middle-income countries like Pakistan that are on the verge of an extremely difficult financial situation.”

It is completely essential to create a new mechanism, he stressed. António Guterres said that rich countries must step up adaptation finance.

Later in a tweet, the UN chief said he was moved by the generosity of the people affected by the floods.

PPP chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, ‘We are all incredibly grieved.’

He said that September was the busiest month for the UN chief with the UN General Assembly to be held later this month.

“Secretary General took out time to personally visit Pakistan in our time of difficulty and witnessed first-hand the devastation that has been caused by the catastrophic monsoon rains that we faced for many month,” the foreign minister said.

Bilawal said the UN chief spent the previous day in Islamabad and received briefings from the National Flood Response Centre.

“And, today, along with Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif we accompanied the Secretary General to visit the flood-hit areas of Balochistan, where he met flood affectees then he visited flood affected areas in Sindh.”

He also visited UNESCO world heritage site Mohen-jo-Daro, which unfortunately too had been damaged by the monsoon rains.

The people of Pakistan were facing a heavy price in the form of their lives and livelihoods, PPP chairman said.

Bilawal said that the people of Pakistan contributed less than 1 percent to global carbon footprints. He said that response to this crises must be a global response.

With the help of UN chief, we look forward to working with the global community to build better, to rehabilitate and to reconstruct the lives of our people, he added.

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