NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called for new loan terms with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as he said floods that ravaged his country had created a disaster of apocalyptic proportions.
In addition to more than 1,500 deaths, the disaster has caused a dual health and food crisis, Bilawal said, adding that Pakistan needed some $30 billion in aid to deal with the situation and hailed the efforts international organizations underway to offer assistance.
Bilawal said an agreement was recently signed with the IMF for economic stability, but all the estimates and figures of the agreement were washed away by the recent flood. The floods caused a loss of $30 billion in Pakistan, he said, adding that the situation had changed after the floods and the IMF should discuss new conditions.
Bilawal said, “We don’t want help but justice from the international community.
Neighboring India, however, did not offer help, said Bilawal, who condemned the BJP government as “racist” and “Islamophobic”. Bilawal said Pakistan had not received any aid from India following the devastating floods that wreaked havoc in the country.
In the interview with France 24 in New York, Bilawal was asked if the neighboring country had offered help and if Pakistan had asked for it. He answered both questions in the negative.
Pakistan needs massive investment to become climate resilient, FM tells US institution
On the current state of relations with India, Bilawal said, “We have a long and complicated history…unfortunately India today is a changed India and is no longer the secular India promised by its founding fathers to all its citizens. “It is increasingly becoming a Hindu supremacist India at the expense of its Christian and Muslim minorities… not only in India, but unfortunately in the disputed region of illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Referring to the revocation in August 2019 of the special status of Indian-occupied Kashmir, Bilawal said India had taken certain steps and actions which had made “engagement with India untenable for us”. He said undermining UN and UN Security Council resolutions, changing the borders of the disputed territory and attempting to change demographics “create very little space for us to engage”.
“It is absolutely a racist, fascist and Islamophobic policy. This caused a reaction not only in Kashmir but all over India. Bilawal said India’s Muslim minority – the largest minority on the planet – felt persecuted and insecure. “This is how the Indian government treats its own Muslim citizens. You can only imagine how they treat Muslims in Pakistan and Kashmir,” he added.
Bilawal added, however, that the younger generation in both countries “wants to see the two neighbors living in peace side by side”. Meanwhile, regarding the flood situation in the country, Bilawal said Pakistan is still in an active disaster. “The scale of the tragedy in Pakistan is truly apocalyptic and biblical. According to the Bible, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights,” he said, referring to the story of Prophet Nuh.
“This monstrous monsoon that Pakistan experienced started in mid-June and ended at the end of August,” he said, adding that a “100 kilometer lake” remained when the rains finally stopped. .
Bilawal lamented that the “irony” was that Pakistan’s carbon output was tiny and yet was one of the 10 most climate-stressed countries. He said Pakistan faces multiple challenges in the future such as health disaster, epidemic, crop shortage, loss of livestock, food security, etc.
Bilawal said all estimates formed with the International Monetary Fund on economic stability have been “washed away”.
On the issue of international aid and assistance, FM Bilawal said that while Pakistan was grateful for aid, the country “didn’t want to beg or didn’t want help – we want justice”. He added that this was a global catastrophe resulting from global action and therefore needed a global solution.
He said a more accurate assessment of damage needs was needed once the waters receded, but currently the “estimate” was nearly $30 billion in economic losses. “Every crisis creates an opportunity and in this crisis the opportunity is that we need to build back in a more resilient and greener way.”
Regarding Afghanistan and its continued crackdown on girls’ education, Bilawal said Pakistan still has not officially recognized the Afghan government. He said it would be in the interest of the Afghan government to keep its promises to the international community and to his nation to gain legitimacy and on the path to international recognition.
Bilawal said that while some female education was offered, secondary education was still expected.
He said that overall, “we are not there yet in terms of recognition”, adding that the world community wanted to see Afghanistan function as a modern state and ensure that its soil is not not used for terrorism, that women have access to education and a more inclusive government.
Regarding the UN report regarding alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang against Muslim Uyghurs, Bilawal said, “We must be fair and impartial in our approach. We cannot choose in such situations,” adding that the Foreign Ministry had published its response and welcomed China’s desire to engage with the world on the issue.
Regarding recent protests in Iran over the death of a young woman allegedly due to morality police, FM Bilawal said he had seen the Iranian Foreign Minister’s response on the matter and said he was doing confidence in the neighbor to “keep his word” for an investigation into the incident despite “living in extremely difficult circumstances”.