Sharif focuses on development at UN summit, stays off global issues

United Nations, Sep 27 (IANS) Declaring that “development strategies remain first and foremost national undertakings”, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif focused on domestic social and economic issues without getting into international or bilateral issues in his address at the UN Summit on sustainable development on Sunday.

“Unwavering political will, both at the national and international levels” would be required to achieve the goal of poverty eradication, he said, without elaborating except for references to “addressing systemic issues and structural constraints” and “stemming illegal capital outflows”.

Although most leaders at the summit focused on development issues and stayed off contentious international issues, some rang a discordant note.

Belaraus President Alexander Lukashenko, who spoke earlier in the day, lashed out against the West for what he said were the “invasion” of Iraq and the “interference” in Libya and Syria, which have devastated the region.

President Nicolas Maduro Moros of Venezuela and Rafael Correa also made anti-West statements.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko lit into Russia over the annexation of Crimea and what he called the interference in his country.

While Sharif kept the dignity of the summit by not using it as a pulpit for airing his views on bilateral issues, another opportunity will be available for that next week during the annual general debate of the General Assembly.

Sharif is listed as a speaker on Wednesday during the debate, and traditionally that is a forum for airing bilateral and other grievances, and every year Pakistan rakes up the Kashir issue there.

Sri Lanan President Maithrapala Sirisena, who came to the summit dressed in a white kurta-like traditional garment, presented his plan for an “ecosensitive civilsation” that develops the social and economic status of its people. He gave assurance to “eliminate all forms of discrimination”.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, dressed in a sari covering her head, listed her country’s development achievements.

She said, “The developed world can and should walk with developing world towards our common destiny.” Her country is among those most at risk from rising sea-levels due to global warming.

“My father, Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, used to narrate the value of pristine nature,” she said. “In line with Bangabandhu’s vision, our people still believe that conservation and protection of environment as a time-honoured ‘responsibility’, not just a necessity.”

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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