By Abid Siddique Chaudhry
ISLAMABAD : Mr. Volkan Bozkir, the President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), met Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi today. The interaction included a tête-à-tête, followed by delegation level talks and a Joint Press Stakeout. The Foreign Minister also hosted a lunch in the honour of the visiting dignitary which was attended by Ministers and members of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Foreign Minister discussed a wide range of political and socio-economic issues on the UN agenda with the PGA, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, situation in Palestine, Afghan peace process, reform of the UN Security Council, equitable access to COVID-19 Vaccines, and Financing for Sustainable Development.
The Foreign Minister apprised Mr. Bozkir about the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). The Foreign Minister stressed that India’s systematic efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory were in contravention of international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention. The Foreign Minister called for a just and peaceful solution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Condemning the Israeli atrocities in Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Foreign Minister commended the role of Mr. Bozkir in organizing a special meeting of the UN General Assembly last week. He emphasized that the international community must fulfil its responsibility in protecting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and take steps to facilitate a just, comprehensive and lasting solution in line with the UN resolutions envisaging the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state, with pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
Focusing on the importance of the UN reforms, the Foreign Minister underscored the need to transform the Organization into a more effective, transparent, democratic, accountable and efficient body. Appreciating the role of the PGA in that regard, he reiterated Pakistan’s support for a comprehensive and consensus-based reform of the UN Security Council.
The Foreign Minister highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution in facilitating the Afghan peace process and reiterated Pakistan’s support for a negotiated political settlement for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
Welcoming the PGA’s initiative of “Vaccine 4 All”, the Foreign Minister re-emphasized Pakistan’s call for universal access to affordable vaccines for COVID-19. He stressed the importance of removing export restrictions on vaccines and essential materials for the benefit of humanity.
The Foreign Minister further stressed the need for enhanced international cooperation, under UN auspices, to end illicit financial flows and enhance investments in sustainable infrastructure in order to meet the sustainable development and climate goals.
PGA Volkan Bozkir is on an official visit to Pakistan from 26 to 28 May 2021. Mr. Bozkir – the first Turkish national to preside over the UN General Assembly – is a former diplomat and a senior politician. He earlier visited Pakistan in August 2020.
The PGA’s second visit to Islamabad in less than a year is reflective of Pakistan’s support for multilateralism and the central role of the UN in international affairs. It signifies Pakistan’s commitment to promoting the UN’s mission of peace and security, sustainable development, and human rights for all.