Excellency, Foreign Secretary, Mr. Sohail Mahmood,
Senior Government Officials,
Colleagues and friends,
Good morning and Assalam o Alaikum,
First, allow me to express my appreciation to His Excellency, the Foreign Secretary, for his gracious remarks and for hosting all of us here this morning!
Today, we mark 74 years since the United Nations Charter entered into force.
Our Charter established the three founding pillars of the UN system: peace and security, development, and human rights. These pillars are as relevant today as they were 74 years ago.
They guide the UN’s work in Pakistan. They guide the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pakistan was one of the first countries to embrace the agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, it committed to leave no one behind, and to reach those farthest behind, first.
This year, Pakistan presented its first Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals. This milestone shows that Pakistan is serious about achieving the goals, and upholding the common threads that weave the SDGs together – peace and security, development, and human rights.
Pakistan is stepping up on the global goals. As one of the countries most affected by natural disasters, Pakistan knows only too well that climate change is happening. The science is real. The time to act is now. Pakistan is taking action with initiatives like Clean and Green Pakistan. Schemes like Ehsaas – the country’s largest social protection and poverty alleviation programme – are lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Time and again, Pakistan has shown its commitment to protecting the vulnerable. For 40 years, Pakistan has sheltered millions of refugees. Continuing this proud legacy, the Government has decided to extend Proof of Residency Cards for 1.4 million refugees until the end of June 2020. We commend this decision. It reflects the compassion, and the commitments, at the heart of the UN Charter.
UN agencies are committed to supporting Pakistan’s initiatives. Together, we are ‘delivering as one to achieve the SDGs’ by implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework – also called the One UN Programme III – our framework for cooperation with the Government of Pakistan. To achieve our goals, we need a strong United Nations. That is why the UN’s bold reforms are repositioning the UN development system and our management paradigm. We want to evolve as a trusted partner and impartial advisor for all countries, including Pakistan, as they advance on the path to achieving the SDGs.
I must also highlight the huge contribution that Pakistan has made – and continues to make – to the UN.
Pakistani men and women have served the cause of peace from the earliest years of UN peacekeeping. Today, 5,000 Pakistani troops, police and military experts are deployed around the world. 15% of them are women. This is one of the largest contributions, by any country, to international peace and security. It is a clear demonstration of Pakistan’s belief in the UN Charter.
One very visible display of UN peacekeeping work is in Kashmir. The UNMOGIP – the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan – has been observing the ceasefire in Kashmir since (1949.
The UN is by Pakistan’s side in promoting good governance and human rights. We are partnering with the Ministry of Human Rights to build capacities for protecting fundamental rights. We are steadfast partners of the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission on the Status of Women and provincial commissions – supporting their vital monitoring and reporting.
I cannot speak of human rights without speaking of Kashmir.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has expressed the United Nations’ deep concern about the current situation. Allow me also to quote the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet:
“[….] It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future.”
I echo their words. It is vital to ensure that the needs and rights of all Kashmiri people are protected and respected.
Coming back to good governance as an integral part of the human rights agenda, I must commend the first-ever provincial elections in the newly Merged Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The UN will spare no effort to support the districts’ reform agenda. Our work with the Government and partners in the Merged Districts is one of the best examples – anywhere in the world – of the ‘new way of working’ to bridge the humanitarian-development divide.
Today is a day of celebrating our past and planning for our future. We know that 64% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30. We know that it is a mammoth task to ensure that this young, expanding and rapidly urbanizing population has the education, skills and well-being they need to compete in a competitive global economy. Youth empowerment initiatives like Kamyab Jawan are a strong step in the right direction. Such programmes are vital for harnessing Pakistan’s demographic dividend and unlocking its immense potential.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The UN stands with you.
For over 70 years, we have worked side by side for a more sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous Pakistan. Together, we can build a future free from poverty and deprivation. A future in which the fruits of development are equitably shared. A future in which progress is measured both by richness of the economy, and by the richness of human lives. A future in which no one is left behind.
I must thank all of our partners in Pakistan for working with us to achieve this brighter future for all.
Thank you again to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for hosting the UN Day event 2019. And thanks to Serena for kindly supporting the arrangements.
Thank you all for celebrating UN Day with us.
Aap sab ka bohot shukria.