SAMARKAND: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif Friday called on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) member states to “build a wall” against climate change as Pakistan deals with flood devastation triggered by torrential rains that have affected over 30 million people and killed over 1,500.
The prime minister made the appeal while addressing the SCO’s Council of Heads of State (CHS) today as he talked about the environment, peace and security in Afghanistan and economic coordination among the nations.
PM Shehbaz, along with leaders of the eight-member SCO, attended the close-format Council of Heads of States meeting at the Congress Centre, where he was welcomed by President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also attended the session.
Speaking of the devastation caused by the floods, the Pakistani premier said that the country is paying the price for climate change.
“The devastating floods in Pakistan are most definitely climate change-induced. It is the result of climate change, cloud outbursts, and unprecedented rains, combined with hill torrents coming down. All this put together makes Pakistan look like a sea of water,” the PM said.
Stressing that he has “never seen this kind of devastation” before, he said that the SCO should plan well for the coming generations.
PM Shehbaz said the calamity has damaged houses as well as washed out crops. He said people are moreover facing diseases in the flood-hit areas. He expressed the hope that the country will overcome the situation.
The prime minister also expressed gratitude to members of the SCO who supported Pakistan in this hour of need.
“Pakistan is a neighbouring country of Afghanistan, and peace in Afghanistan will ensure peace in Pakistan,” he told the summit, adding that “it will be a big mistake if we ignore Afghanistan this time around”.
The prime minister said the world needs to work collectively to support all good initiatives in Afghanistan for its people.
PM Shehbaz said strengthening Afghanistan in the security and counter-terrorism domain should run parallel to SCO’s support to the Afghan people in the socio-economic arenas.
The prime minister urged the international community to support efforts to build a sustainable Afghan economy and unfreeze its financial assets.
PM Shehbaz said Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism itself and the country has paid huge sacrifices in defeating terrorism.
He urged the members of the SCO to join hands together in fighting against the menace of terrorism, extremism and separatism.
He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong resolve in advancing the objectives of the SCO.
Gas talks with Putin
On the sidelines of the SCO summit, the prime minister met Russian President Vladimir Putin, where the North-South gas pipeline came under discussion.
The Russian president said that a pipeline for gas supply to Pakistan is possible, and that part of the necessary infrastructure is already in place.
President Putin said that he was delighted to meet PM Shehbaz as he had a warm recollection of his working meetings with his brother (Nawaz Sharif), with whom he met on the sidelines of SCO meetings in Kazakhstan and Bashkiria, Russia.
Putin said that he would like to note that he sees Pakistan as a priority partner in Southeast Asia and Asia as a whole. Relations between the two countries are developing absolutely positively, and he is pleased about that, he said.
“I would like to begin our meeting by expressing condolences over the loss of life from natural disasters, the unprecedented flooding in Pakistan. For our part, we are willing to help your people. We have dispatched the necessary humanitarian aid there, and we are ready to help you organise assistance to the flood victims,” President Putin said.