National Assembly passes resolution urging India to reverse illegal actions of August 5, 2019
UNITED NATIONS, May 14, 2022 (APP):A United Nations committee Friday adopted two resolutions, steered by Pakistan in its capacity as Chairman of the Group of 77 (developing countries), that spell out member states’ priorities for the UN Department of Global Communications, from fighting misinformation to helping states protect the fundamental rights to expression and opinion.
In doing so, the Committee on Information ended its 44th session held under the shadow of the tragic killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh — who was reportedly shot dead by Israeli forces earlier this week while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank.
Pakistani delegate Mariam Shaikh led the efforts to promote consensus on the texts, reconciling differing views and positions on a range of issues under discussion.
The Committee finally approved the two draft resolutions contained in the session's report, which was introduced by Darren Camilleri, the Maltese delegate and
rapporteur, and will be forwarded to the General Assembly for adoption.
By their terms, the Assembly would urge all countries, organizations of the United Nations system and others to take a range of actions in support of the free flow of accurate information.
Among other elements, those included specific calls to ensure the free and effective performance of journalists and resolutely condemn attacks against them, and to increase assistance for communication infrastructure and capabilities in developing countries.
The Assembly would reiterate its concerns about the exponential spread and proliferation of disinformation and misinformation and emphasize the need for all Member States to stand together to address those challenges, including on the Internet.
It would also re-emphasize the importance of ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of opinion and expression, the freedom of the press and the right to privacy.
By other terms of the resolutions, the Assembly would call for intensified cooperation with the United Nations system for the effective dissemination of scientific knowledge, best practices and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines.
It would also support a range of activities and programmes of the Department of Global Communications, from its strategic communications services to its promotional campaigns to its role in peacekeeping and peacebuilding and the work of the network of United Nations information centres around the globe.
Ms. Shaikh, press counselor at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that as facilitator of negotiations on the draft resolutions, the bloc sought to ensure renewed momentum and support for the Department of Global Communications.
“We believe we have made important progress in this regard,” she said, while thanking the delegates. The Pakistani delegate also condemned the killing of Ms. Abu Aqleh, the Palestinian-American journalist, and called for an independent investigation into her death.
In her national capacity, she urged the international community to take urgent action to put an end to the Israeli occupation, which continues to fuel conflict, tension, and instability in the region and remains a matter of grave concern for the entire Muslim world.
“Durable peace in the Middle East can only be achieved through the two-state solution and the establishment of a viable, independent, and the contiguous State of Palestine, with the pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital”.
Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division of the Department of Global Communications, welcomed the Committee’s ability to reach consensus at a time of growing global challenges and rising tensions and divisions, particularly around the war in Ukraine.
Thanking delegations for their hard work and flexibility, he said the Department’s work to build support for peace, justice, human rights, equality, climate action and a healthy environment is inspired by Member States’ guidance and priorities. “When these are reached by consensus, that represents the spirit of multilateralism.”
Prior to approving its report, the Committee observed a moment of silence to honour journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, conveyed the sorrow of the Palestinian people at her passing. He condemned the Israeli occupation for murdering the Palestinian media icon even as she was clearly dressed in a press jacket and called for accountability.
Outlining their views on the contents of the Committee’s report, many delegates also referred to the death of Ms. Abu Aqleh — describing it as a “crushing blow to truth and justice” — and emphasizing that attacks on members of the press are wholly unacceptable. Many called for an urgent, impartial and independent inquiry aimed at holding those responsible for her death to account.
President approves reconstitution of CCI
ISLAMABAD, May 13, 2022 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Friday approved the reconstitution of the Council of Common Interests, on the advice of the prime minister. Approved by the president under Article 153 of the constitution, the CCI would be headed by the prime minister and would comprise the chief ministers of four provinces besides three federal ministers.
Three federal ministers would also be part of the Council as they were nominated by the prime minister. The federal ministers include Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar, and Railways and Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq.
UN slams Taliban order directing Afghan women to cover faces in public
UNITED NATIONS, May 08, 2022 (APP):The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has criticized an announcement made by the Taliban ordering all women to cover their faces in public in the country.
“UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” the Mission said in a statement. According to information received by UNAMA, this is a formal directive rather than a recommendation, any violations of which will lead to the punishment of male relatives.
“This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans’ human rights, including those of women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” UNAMA said. Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the Taliban assured that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large.
News reports on the decree, which calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqas, say that this latest whittling of their rights in the country evokes similar restrictions from the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001. It also follows the reneging on an earlier promise to appease their hardline rule at the expense of further alienating the international community, which has been eager for signs that the de facto authority is ready for positive relations with the wider world.
After seizing power, the Taliban confirmed in September that secondary schools were reopening, but that only boys would be returning to the classroom. Women teachers throughout the country were also unable to resume work. Six weeks ago, the de facto authority decided again to postpone secondary schooling for Afghan girls –drawing wide international, regional, and local condemnation.
This latest decision by the Taliban threatens to further strain engagement with the international community. “UNAMA will immediately request meetings with the Taliban de facto authorities to seek clarification on the status of this decision,” the statement continued, adding that UNAMA would also engage in consultations with members of the international community regarding the implications of this latest decree.
Intense push-back against the Taliban have led to nations cutting development aid and enforcing strict sanctions on the country’s banking system, pushing Afghanistan towards economic ruin, it was pointed out. On August 30, 2021, the Security Council passed a resolution calling on the Taliban to provide safe passage for all those seeking to leave the country. During a high-level meeting in Geneva the following month, the international community pledged more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people.
Meanwhile, the nation is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with needs surpassing those in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, leaving nearly 23 million people facing acute food insecurity. In January, the UN and partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan, in the hope of shoring up collapsing basic services there.
Throughout, the UN has pledged to stay and continue to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Afghan people across the country.
Acute food insecurity in parts of world: UN
UNITED NATIONS, May 04, 2022 (APP):The number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring life-saving food assistance is growing at an alarming rate, creating urgency for tackling the root causes of food crises rather than just responding after they occur, according to a joint UN report released Wednesday.
“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” David Beasley, Executive Director of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), said in a statement. The annual report from the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an international alliance of the UN, European Union (EU), governmental and non-governmental agencies – shines a light on the urgency of tackling root causes rather than just responding to emergencies after the fact.
The report focuses on countries and territories where the severity of the food crisis is outstripping local resources and capacities. It reveals that some 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2021, representing an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with 2020’s already record numbers.
Of those, 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity, “catastrophe” phase 5, and required urgent action to avert widespread collapse of livelihoods, starvation and death. When looking at the same 39 countries or territories featured in all editions of the report, the number of people facing Phase 3 levels or above, nearly doubled between 2016 and 2021, rising unabatedly each year since 2018.
“The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address acute food insecurity at the global level across humanitarian, development and peace context,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said. From conflict to environmental and climate crises, and economic to health crises with poverty and inequality as underlying causes, these worrying trends are the result of multiple drivers feeding into one another.
Weather extremes have crippled over 23 million people in eight countries/territories, an increase from 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories. And economic shocks have affected over 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, down from over 40 million people in 17 countries/territories in 2020 – mainly due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity, having pushed 139 million in 24 countries/territories into acute food insecurity – up from around 99 million in 23 countries/territories in in 2020. “Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm,” Beasley said.
“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation,” he added appealing for “urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late”. While the analysis predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the report finds that the war has already exposed the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems, with serious consequences for global food and nutrition security.
Countries already coping with high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to the risks created by the war in Eastern Europe, notably due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks, notes the report. “The tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again evident and alarming,” QU said.
“While the international community has courageously stepped up to the calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to efficiently tackle the root causes of food crises due to, among others, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots and the war in Ukraine, still struggles to match the growing needs”.
The report’s findings demonstrate the need for a greater prioritization of smallholder agriculture as a frontline humanitarian response. Furthermore, it advocates for promoting structural changes to current external financing, to reduce humanitarian assistance over time through longer-term development investments, which can help tackle the root causes of hunger.
In parallel, humanitarian assistance must be provided more efficiently and sustainably. “The situation calls out for at-scale action to move towards integrated approaches to prevention, anticipation, and better targeting to sustainably address the root causes of food crises, including structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth and fragile food systems,” the Global Network founding members said in a joint statement with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.
PM Shehbazphones political bigwigs to extend Eid greetings
ISLAMABAD, May 4, 2022 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday telephoned President Dr Arif Alvi, chief ministers of different provinces, leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, and senior political leaders to extend Eid greetings to them. A day after his similar telephonic conversations with the Muslim world leaders, the prime minister communicated with the local leadership and exchanged Eid greetings besides discussing the country’s political situation. The prime minister telephoned Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Tanvir Ilyas and conveyed greetings to the people of the territory.
Moreover, he also condemned the ban on Eid prayer congregations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support till the Kashmiri people got their right to self-determination. He also interacted with the chief ministers of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan as well as the acting governor of Balochistan. However, he could not converse with the Balochistan chief minister as he was abroad.
The prime minister telephoned ex-President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and extended Eid greeting. They thanked the prime minister for the telephone and reciprocated the Eid greetings. Prime Minister Sharif also phoned the PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who congratulated him on his successful visits of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In his conversation with Jamat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq, the prime minister exchanged Eid greetings and discussed the country’s political situation.
Shehbaz Sharif also telephonically interacted with Communications Minister Maulana Asad Mahmood, Mohsin Dawar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Allama Sajid Mir, Khalid Magsi, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Ali Nawaz Shah, Shahzain Bugti, Aslam Bhotani and Chaudhry Salik Hussain. The prime minister inquired from Chaudhry Salik about the health condition of Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and expressed good wishes for his early recovery.
US begins training Ukrainian forces in Germany
WASHINGTON: The US has begun training Ukrainian forces on new military systems at American military installations in Germany, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Ukrainian forces are being trained on howitzer artillery, radar systems and armoured vehicles the US is supplying to Kyiv amid its effort to defend against an over two-month long Russian offensive.
Defence Department spokesman John Kirby thanked Germany for its support, and said the training in Germany and elsewhere "is in direct support of recent US security assistance packages that are designed to help Ukraine win their battles today, and build strength for tomorrow." "These new systems, and the associated training will strengthen Ukraine's ability to counter Russia's renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine," he told reporters.
About 160 members of the Florida National Guard are carrying out the training. It comes on the heels of US President Joe Biden announcing over $1.6 billion in military assistance for Ukraine over the past three weeks. He requested Congress provide an additional $20.4 billion in new military and other security assistance as existing funding is running dry.
The US has provided Kyiv with droves of armaments to aid its battle, include drones, anti-tank and anti-air munitions and heavy artillery. The package Biden requested on Thursday includes additional artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-armour and anti-air capabilities, as well as what the US says are "accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defence systems." It has not specified the systems.
According to UN estimates, at least 2,899 civilians have been killed and 3,235 injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the actual figure feared to be much higher. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 8.3 million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries.