UNITED NATIONS: - Stressing the urgency of the challenges of soaring costs of food and energy, Pakistan has called on the UN to take the lead in generating money and technology vitally needed to deal with the two global crises afflicting many nations, especially the developing countries. "Without this, poverty and despondency will grow, with potentially destabilizing effects on a large number of countries," Raza Bashir Tarar, the Pakistani delegate, told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday evening. During a day-long meeting, the 192-member assembly debated the global food and energy crises in the context of its work on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major U.N. conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields. Underlining the huge challenges, the Pakistani delegate said, "We can not afford to falter any further on the agreed development commitments and goals. Procrastination and inaction will be catastrophic.  We need to act and act now." Tarar, who is currently the acting permanent representative, said the international community's response to the food crisis must be coherent and comprehensive.  Short-term actions should aim at expanding food production, while structural and policy issues must be addressed over the long term. He also called for greater interaction between the High-Level Task Force, established to combat the crises, and member states. The Pakistani delegate said he did not support the assumption that the rise in energy prices was due to a supply gap, suggesting instead that there was a lack of sufficient refining capacity.  There was a "doomsday security scenario" for oil-rich areas, and some control mechanisms and regulations were required to moderate prices by curbing manipulative speculation. He urged rich nations to support developing countries in solving their balance-of-payment problems. In this regard, the Pakistani delegate welcomed Saudi King Abdullah's $500 million contribution. The current financial crisis affecting industrialized economies had critically exposed the imbalance in the global financial system, he said.  If the current turbulence developed into a full-blown financial crisis, the global ramifications would be serious. To offset such a possibility, the Pakistani delegate called for implementation of the commitments made by the developed world to increase official development assistance significantly.                                 UNGA PRESIDENT Opening the debate, the President of U.N. General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, called for urgent changes in global agricultural policies to meet the challenges. Reducing subsidies, lifting tariffs and other trade barriers would stimulate food production and offer a route to development for 180 million small farmers in Africa, he said. The President added that an urgent and mandatory step at the global level was to ensure a successful outcome to the Doha Round of international trade talks. "The food crisis therefore offers a win-win opportunity for the international community to collectively agree to policies that promote trade efficiency while also boosting agricultural production and reducing the vulnerability of the poorest around the world," Kerim stressed. The rise in food and oil prices could severely weaken the economies of up to 75 developing countries, Kerim said, quoting research by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He added that the World Bank estimated that rising costs could reduce the gross domestic product (GDP) of up to 50 countries by 3 to 10 per cent, pushing at least 100 million people into poverty. Kerim called on the 192-member Assembly to adopt a resolution on the current economic threats, saying they require "an immediate, coherent and coordinated response with the UN system playing a central role."                          BAN KI-MOON Also addressing the Assembly on Friday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that "the double jeopardy of high food and fuel prices threatens to undermine much of the progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To meet the MDGs " a set of anti-poverty targets to be achieved worldwide by 2015 " Mr. Ban called for a Global Partnership for Food, bringing together governments, donors, UN agencies, international financial institutions, business, academic communities and civil society. The Secretary-General also said that between $25 and $40 billion would be needed annually to boost agricultural production and to assist farmers around the world. He welcomed a proposal by the European Commission for a special funding facility to provide more than $1.5 billion for a rapid response to the global food crisis. "If we do not seek lasting solutions now, more children will die each day, more families will go to bed hungry. The threats left to the next generation will be even greater," he said.