Shah Mahmood Qureshi, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, attended the 73rd United Nations General Assembly and on Saturday delivered a comprehensive speech during the general debate session. He expressed Pakistan’s stance very well and included almost all important issues. He covered global issues, regional issues and religious issues, and suggested some measures to improve the situation globally.
It was the first time in the recent history of Pakistan that it had successfully presented its case on Kashmir to the international community and called for an early resolution as the people of Kashmir are suffering human-rights violations at the hands of Indian forces. He pointed out Indian involvement in Pakistan’s internal affairs and alleged its involvement in acts of terrorism in Pakistan. In fact, India has been exposed by at UN report on human-rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir in particular and in general violations against the rights of minorities and the low-caste population.
He also highlighted the Belt and Road Initiative, a multibillion-dollar mega-project of China that aims to promote connectivity, harmony and development. Most of the investment is earmarked for infrastructure development, which would eventually facilitate trade and people-to-people contacts. It will improve understanding among nations and reduce cultural barriers, ultimately resulting in peace, harmony and prosperity. This may be a model of future development of humankind.
He also stressed strengthening the United Nations and making it more effective. In fact, the UN Charter is a perfect roadmap for the world to follow, but some nations have become so strong that they have taken steps without getting UN consent or approval. Some may have even influenced the UN and gotten its tacit approval. All such acts were disastrous for world peace.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi also suggested eight points to be considered by the UN:
- The Sustainable Development Goals must be pursued in order to reduce inequality within and among nations. He hoped the secretary general’s high-level event earlier in the week on financing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would serve as a catalyst for rapid progress toward realizing the SDGs. The gap of development among nations tempted too many evils. Once the developments are more uniform, some issues could be solved automatically.
- Corruption is a grave crime. Those who provide safe havens to ill-gotten wealth are partners in crime, and equally culpable. Existing international conventions on corruption do not go far enough in addressing this malice. It is time to return looted wealth to its rightful owners, the people, and to take to task both the perpetrators and their abettors. In fact, corruption is a major hurdle in the development of many nations. Once this issue is overcome, the pace of developments may be rapid.
- Climate change poses serious challenges to all states. The Paris Agreement must not be allowed to become hostage to business interests. Even as Pakistan contributes minimally to global emissions, it remains among the most vulnerable. The Pakistani government completed a project to planting of a billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It has now launched an ambitious project of planting 10 billion trees across Pakistan.
- A rules-based global order is vital for the promotion of international trade in goods and services as well as global nuclear commerce and governance mechanisms. Carving out exemptions and bending established rules to suit partisan interests must be eschewed. Pakistan was one of the founder members of the World Trade Organization and is a strong supporter of globalization. In fact, it was the Western world that championed globalization, but in the last couple of years, some of the Western developed countries, especially the US, are exercising protectionism.
- An objective and transparent criterion must be evolved to facilitate trade in strategic goods and membership of groupings governing it. This is essential for countries pursuing economic growth and development. It will provide an opportunity to develop their economies and narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
- The sanctity and integrity of international agreements must be maintained. Strategic stability must be nurtured by policies of restraint and responsibility, not by considerations of profits and politics. Relations between the states must be based on helping mankind, and not limited to material gains only.
- Technology and innovation are key to reshaping the world’s states and societies. There must be a prudent balance between guarding against misuse of emerging technologies and facilitating their access to developing countries. It is essential to develop universally agreed legal frameworks in the area of cybersecurity, lethal autonomous weapons systems, artificial intelligence and weaponization of outer space. Science, technology, and innovation may be used as an engine of growth for civilian technologies and development of socio-economic conditions of a state.
- Dislocation of people in recent years, primarily because of wars but also due to pervasive poverty, has energized the global debate on refugees and migrants. The deliberations leading to the Global Compacts on Refugees and Migrants represent a step in the right direction. The true litmus test of these compacts lies in the effective implementation of commitments.
Pakistan is fully committed to peace and will keep on struggling for it until lasting peace is achieved.