Sep 26, 2020, 12:02 AM
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Pakistan PM reaffirms support for multilateralism at UNGA

Islamabad, Sept 26, IRNA -- Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan says the driving force in international relations must be cooperation, in accordance with the principles of international law, and not confrontation and force.

Addressing the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session via video-link on Friday, he said "we all must emphatically reaffirm our support for multilateralism".

**Just and lasting settlement of Palestine indispensable

The prime minister also spoke about Zionist occupation of Palestine, and said that "a just and lasting settlement is indispensable for the Middle East and actually the world".

He said Palestine remains a "festering wound". "Illegal annexations of Palestinian territory, the building of illegal settlements and the imposition of inhuman living conditions on the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza cannot bring peace to a troubled region," he said.

“Pakistan continues to support a two-state solution – in line with the UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, within the internationally agreed parameters, and they are; pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the Capital of a united, contiguous and independent Palestinian state,” said PM Khan.

**Challenge of Covid-19 pandemic

PM Imran said Covid-19 has made the world realize benefits of unity, saying, “No one is safe until everyone is safe."

“Locking down to control the pandemic has triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression in the last Century. This has hit the poorest countries the hardest as well as the poor in all the countries,” said PM Khan.

"In Pakistan we realized very early on that if we imposed a strict lockdown, the type that several affluent countries had imposed, we would have more people dying of hunger than the virus," he added.

Therefore, "we adopted a policy of ‘smart lockdown.’ While concentrating on the virus hot-spots we opened up our agricultural sector immediately" and then followed it up by the construction sector, which employed most of the people", Khan further added. 

Today, the prime minister added, Pakistan’s response is cited among the countries that successfully curb the spread of virus. “But still we are not out of the woods.”

The immediate financial assistance provided by the international financial institutions was not enough to ward off the impacts of economic challenges triggered by COVID-19, he said, adding that the world community needs to do more to help the developing countries to deal with economic woes.

**Rising Islamophobia

PM Khan noted that pandemic was an opportunity to bring humanity together, unfortunately it has instead fanned nationalism, increased global tensions, given rise to racial and religious hatred and violence against vulnerable minority in several places.

“These trends have also accentuated Islamophobia,” he said.

He added Muslims continued to be target in many countries. “Our shrines have been destroyed, our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) insulted, the Holy Quran burnt and all this in the name of freedom of speech,” he said.

Prime Minister went on to say incidents in Europe, including republication of blasphemous sketches by Charlie Hebdo are recent examples.

He said Incitement to hate and violence must be unanimously outlawed.  “This Assembly should declare an international day to combat Islamophobia and build a coalition to fight this scourge that splits the humanity,” said the PM Khan.

**No military solution to Afghanistan conflict

Expressing his views, PM Khan said there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. “The only way forward was and is a political settlement which involves the full spectrum of Afghanistan’s political actors,” he said.

The premier added Pakistan fully facilitated the process that culminated in the US-Taliban Peace Agreement on 29 February 2020.

“Pakistan is deeply gratified that it has fulfilled its part of the responsibility,” he said.

He was of the view that the Afghan leaders must now seize this historic opportunity to achieve reconciliation and restore peace in their war-torn country.

“Through the Intra-Afghan Negotiations that commenced on 12th of September, they must work out an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement. The process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, and without any interference or outside influence,” he said.

The Prime Minister said early return of Afghan refugees must be a part of this political solution.  After almost two decades of war, it is imperative not to allow “spoilers” – within and outside Afghanistan – to subvert the peace process.

“Peace and stability in Afghanistan will open new opportunities for development and regional connectivity,” he said.

272**2050

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