ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday said Prime Minister Imran Khan had proposed debt relief as one of the quickest ways to provide essential fiscal space to the developing countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He said the re-allocation of existing Special Drawing Rights and creation of additional SDRs was another avenue to meet the financing requirements of developing countries.

Speaking at the high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, through video, Foreign Minister Qureshi called for strict adherence to the principles of the UN Charter, especially non-use of force, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, non-interference in the internal affairs, and the exercise of the right of self-determination by peoples under colonial and foreign occupation.

The Foreign Minister expressed deep concern over the oppression and atrocities being perpetrated against the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Referring to the COVID-19, the Foreign Minister said that the pandemic had triggered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. He added that the pandemic had exposed the inequalities of global finance, trade and investment structures as the poorest, among and within nations, would suffer the most and 130 million people would be pushed back into poverty.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that while the rich nations, with a population of 1.5 billion, had 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, were struggling to mobilize even $1 trillion - around 1 percent of GDP - to respond to the health and economic challenges. The Foreign Minister said that, to overcome this challenge.

The Foreign Minister also highlighted that despite its financial difficulties, Pakistan had deployed $8 billion, 3 percent of its GDP, to assist our disadvantaged and poor.

Keeping in view the geopolitical divisions within the UN Security Council, the Foreign Minister cautioned that the Council would not be revitalized by accommodating the narrow ambitions of those who seek power and privilege. He added that additional permanent members in the Security Council would compound, not resolve, its inability to act.

The Foreign Minister noted that the world was facing three simultaneous challenges: “fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving the 2030 Agenda and preventing climate catastrophe.” To meet these challenges, the Foreign Minister stressed the need to restore the central role of ECOSOC to promote “better standards of life in larger freedoms.” He pledged that Pakistan would take a leading role to promote these objectives during its forthcoming Presidency of the Economic and Social Council.