India, Pakistan water deal must be an ‘instrument of peace’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, center, arrives to attend a talk on Sustainable Development and Climate Change, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 17 February 2020

India, Pakistan water deal must be an ‘instrument of peace’

  • UN chief is in Islamabad for a conference on Afghan refugees

ISLAMABAD: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who arrived in Islamabad on Sunday morning on a four-day visit, said that the waters shared by Pakistan and India “must be a tool for peace and not war.”

His comments were part of an address on climate change in the capital.

Last year, when tensions between the two countries reached a tipping point, the UN chief was told by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that India had hinted at abandoning the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty — an agreement brokered by the World Bank — which could potentially start a water war.

“Water must be an instrument of peace and not an instrument of conflict,” Guterres said, referring to heightened security issues between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

“I would ask the two countries to have clear cooperation in relation to water. And I have some moral authority,” the UN chief said, adding that as prime minister of Portugal he had spearheaded a water-sharing agreement with neighboring Spain.

“If one country thinks (it can) solve the problem by letting others in a bad situation ... in the end things turn against everybody.”

On Sunday, Guterres said that 80 percent of the water used for agriculture by Pakistan — an agriculture-based economy — was at risk because of climate change.


Pakistan has a 2030 goal to achieve 30 percent clean energy through renewable projects and 30 percent through hydro projects.

He said that it was unfair that Pakistan was at the front line of climate change’s negative impacts while contributing little to global environmental damage. 

“SDGs must be fulfilled by 2030. The world needs to reduce carbon emission levels. Our planet is burning and too many politicians continue to fiddle. We have to move from a grey to a green economy,” Guterres said, referring to a “climate emergency.” 

Following a keynote speech by the minister for climate change, the adviser to the PM on the topic, Amin Aslam, highlighted the dangers that Pakistan faces — and the government’s five-point agenda to address the core issues of climate change.

Pakistan has a 2030 goal to achieve 30 percent clean energy through renewable projects and 30 percent through hydro projects. 

During his visit, Guterres will also attend an international conference on Afghan refugees that is being hosted by Pakistan.

The two-day event, from Feb. 17-18, will mark four decades since refugees first moved to Pakistan to escape a decades-long conflict plaguing neighboring Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion of 1979.

He is expected to hold talks with Pakistan President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan, in addition to other senior officials.

PM Khan will inaugurate the Afghan refugees’ conference, which is expected to host the UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, and ministers and senior officials from about 20 countries “who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe and in Pakistan,” the FO said in a statement last week.

Pakistan is host to nearly 1.4 million registered refugees, as corroborated by the UNHCR.


Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

Updated 30 May 2020

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

CHICAGO: Minneapolis exploded into riots and arson this week after an African-American suspected of handling counterfeit money was killed on Monday during his arrest by two city police officers.

Videos on social media showed an officer placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and being restrained on the street by the kerb. The 46-year-old said that he could not breathe, but police insisted that Floyd was “resisting arrest” and had to be forcibly restrained.

The officer who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.

Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene and his family immediately called for an independent probe.

His family turned to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said the family’s first concern was to seek an autopsy independent of the police because of a lack of trust in law enforcement and to give their deceased family member a proper funeral.

“Is it two justice systems in America?” Crump said as he addressed the media. “One for black America and one for white America? We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for.”

Protests spread across the country and turned violent as arson destroyed property, including the police station where the police officers were assigned.

President Donald Trump denounced the rioters as “thugs” and warned that he might send in the military “to take control.” 

Minneapolis Police handed the investigation into Floyd’s death to the FBI and US Justice Department on Thursday night. Officials from the FBI and US Justice Department promised that the probe would be “robust and meticulous.”

The media’s role in the protests came sharply into focus when, early on Friday, CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested along with his TV crew.

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who looked on as her colleague was being arrested, told viewers: “If you are just tuning in you are watching our correspondent Omar Jimenez being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We are not sure why our correspondent is being arrested.”