FM Bilawal calls for fair, impartial investigation into attack on Imran

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on Monday for a ‘free, fair and impartial’ investigation into the alleged assassination attempt on PTI chief Imran Khan.

In an interview to CNN with senior journalist Christiana Amanpour, the minister reiterated his “unequivocal condemnation” of the attack and maintained that an impartial investigation would help bring facts forward.

Live: Foreign Minister of Pakistan @BBhuttoZardari's interview with CNN
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“Whatever anyone thinks of Mr Khan domestically, this was an attack on a former prime minister. An attack on anyone should be investigated in an impartial and proper manner,” Bilawal stated.

Commenting on Imran’s visit to Russia while he was still in power and his handshake with Russian President Vladimir Putin the day the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, FM Bilawal said that across the political divide in Pakistan “we agreed we want to stay neutral in this conflict”.

“We understand how this can be misinterpreted as Pakistan taking sides… [but] we do not want to get dragged into yet another conflict,” he said, adding that he wanted to focus on the “many” devastating crises within the country.

The interview was on the sidelines of the COP27 conference ongoing in Egypt. Amanpour asked the foreign minister if this was the summit that would help Pakistan get loss and damage.

Climate, loss and damage

Bilawal stated that Pakistan was currently the chair for the G77 plus China – a group of 77 UN countries – and had been successful in adding loss and damage to the agenda of the conference.

“We have adaptation, mitigation and a third agenda item now as a result of successful negotiations,” he said.

Highlighting that one-third of the country was underwater, with one out of seven people affected by the floods that lashed the country earlier this year, the FM said that there was a sudden realisation that there was no international mechanism to address a catastrophe of this scale.

He hoped that with loss and damage as part of the agenda, Pakistan will work with the international community and that the next country to be hit by a “tragedy of this scale will have some sort of mechanism available as far as loss and damage is concerned”.

“As far as loss and damage is concerned, rather than emphasising it as compensation, we should look at this as a collective responsibility because loss and damage is a fact that we have to address and work together to achieve an end. It is the shared responsibility of the global community to address not only adaptation, not only mitigation but also loss and damage,” he said.

Read Bilawal stresses need to address 'state-sponsored terrorism' at SCO summit

Bilawal maintained that Pakistan contributed less than 1% to climate change but was the eighth most climate-stressed country on the planet.

“There is an incredible injustice where we didn’t contribute as much as other countries, but we are feeling the brunt of it, while the financial commitment which was $100 billion per annum has not been met,” he said.

The FM furthered that Pakistan was aware that the world faced “incredible economic difficulties” due to a host of issues, but still emphasised that Pakistan was still entitled to meet the promised pledge.

He urged “out of the box solutions”, including financial instruments that will help the country “finance adaptations, finance mitigation and find ways to finance loss and damage”.

Detailing the efforts of the UN, the foreign minister stated that the “UN has been fantastic” and that the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres championed the Pakistani cause, visited the country immediately, and was at the Pakistan pavilion at COP27. He hoped that the UNSG would work with Pakistan for its donors’ conference.

Bilawal stated that the secretary general’s support was “absolutely admirable”.

“There are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic, but we have to find reasons to be optimistic and one of the reasons I’m optimistic is that I believe it’s an incredible achievement – particularly on behalf of the G77 plus China – that we got loss and damage on the agenda. This means the world will be working on ways and means to address this issue,” he said.

Ukraine crisis

Talking about the Ukraine crisis, he claimed that the conflict devastated economies worldwide and raised fuel prices across the globe, including Pakistan.

“Add on top of that the Covid crisis, add on top of that the climate catastrophe,” he said. He hoped that in this “extremely difficult situation”, dialogue and diplomacy took place so that war and human conflict could end, and the world could focus on the “greater existential threat to the human race”.

He maintained that the world was “a difficult place” and that Pakistan was just emerging from the “forever war” in Afghanistan, which had catastrophic consequences. Bilawal further said that the world was still affected by the Covid pandemic as well.

“It’s not about what went wrong or who’s at fault vis a vis Ukraine, but it does directly impact us,” he said, adding that Pakistan imported its wheat from Ukraine and the ongoing war impacted food security issues.

He also stated that the effect on global fuel prices was impacting Pakistan.

“Regardless of the perspective we ultimately want to see this conflict end so we can focus on the important issue, on the existential threat to the human race which should unite us from east to west so we can tackle climate change and survive as a planet,” FM Bilawal said.

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