ISLAMABAD              -       Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said that coronavirus has threatened millions of lives across the globe.

In his video-link speech, at the United Nations Economic and Social Council, he said that the world was presently facing the most serious crisis since the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago. “It is a dual health and economic crisis,” he added.

He also said that millions had been infected by the COVID-19 virus.

“I myself am one of the fortunate survivors. Millions of lives are threatened unless all nations of the world respond effectively and collectively to defeat the pandemic. No one will be safe until everyone is safe,” the FM said.

The pandemic, he said, has triggered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

“It is estimated that the world economy may contract by 5 percent. As usual, the poorest, among and within nations, will suffer the most. One hundred and thirty million people may be pushed back into poverty. We must fight hunger even as we fight the virus,” Qureshi said.

The United Nations, he said, was under the leadership of Secretary General Antonio Geutteres, and the UN family of organizations, have mobilized admirably to respond to the crisis. 

“We welcome the OCHA’s emergency fund and the UN recovery fund proposed by Norway. We welcome the response of the IMF, World Bank, WHO and other international organizations. But much more needs to be done to contain the virus and prevent economic collapse in a number of countries,” he said.

The FM said this crisis had illustrated the essential unity of humanity. “It has also exposed how unequal are the structures of global finance, trade and investment. While the rich nations, with a population of 1.5 billion, have generated nearly $10 trillion in deficit financing to address the crisis, amounting to 10-20 percent of their GDP, developing countries, with over 7 billion people, are struggling to mobilize even $1 trillion - around 1percent of GDP- to respond to the health and economic challenge,” he maintained.

Despite its financial difficulties, he said, Pakistan had deployed $8 billion, 3 percent of its GDP, to assist our disadvantaged and poor.

He said the Managing Director of IMF and UNCTAD have estimated that the developing countries will need over $2.5 trillion in support to address the health and economic crisis. 

Qureshi said the reallocation of existing Special Drawing Rights and creation of additional SDRs is another avenue to meet the financing requirements of developing countries. 

The international cooperation, he said, was indispensable to respond to the pandemic and economic recession. “This can be best promoted at and through the United Nations,” he added.

Unfortunately, the FM said, the United Nations, and indeed the “entire concept of multilateralism, had been severely eroded by the resort to hegemonism, coercion, the arbitrary use of force, foreign intervention and occupation and the brutal suppression of the right of peoples under colonial and alien occupation to self determination. Pakistan is particularly concerned by the oppression and atrocities being perpetrated against the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir.”

The FM said global tensions and regional conflicts can be resolved only through strict adherence to the principles of the UN Charter especially “the non-use of force, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, non interference in their internal affairs and the exercise of the right of self determination by peoples under colonial and foreign occupation.”

Today, he said, the UN Security Council was driven by division among major powers. “These differences can and should be overcome through mutual respect for each other’s legitimate national interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity. They should be overcome through dialogue and reciprocal accommodation,” the FM said,

This, he said, was not the time to retreat behind walls and barriers. “This is not the time for the stigmatization of religious or ethnic minorities. This is neither the time for exclusionary nationalism, nor for blame games,” he added.

The FM said it was also vital to restore the central role of the Economic and Social Council to promote “better standards of life in larger freedoms” to quote the UN Charter. 

Pakistan, he said, “looks forward to promote ECOSOC’s central role in addressing these challenges during its forthcoming Presidency of the Council.”