• Pakistan seeks Afghan settlement before the withdrawal of foreign troops
• Khan ready for India talks if given Kashmir roadmap

The world’s richest countries have not done enough to combat global warming, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said yesterday, adding that his country had done more than any other in the world to combat rising emissions relative to its economic means.
Pakistan, this year’s host of the United Nations’ annual World Environment Day today, is among the countries worst affected by climate change, having been regularly hit by devastating floods in recent years, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying swathes of agricultural land.
“Has the developed world done enough: The answer is ‘no’,” Khan said in an interview with Reuters at his official residence in Islamabad. “Emissions are from the rich countries. And I think they know they haven’t done enough.”
This year’s World Environment Day will serve as the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, calling for urgent action to revive damaged ecosystems.
Under Khan, Pakistan has undertaken a number of restoration projects, including a 10bn-tree-planting drive.
This week Khan planted the billionth tree in that drive.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a report released yesterday that over the last five years Pakistan had experienced an environmental turnaround after years of decline in its natural capital, but added more needed to be done.
Khan said that developing countries like Pakistan had done “more than enough” to combat global warming and climate change despite having limited budgets and an array of problems to deal with such as in education and health.
“To take so much money out as we did – proportionate to our GDP and available income – I think Pakistan has done more than any country in the world,” he said.
Aside from ecological restoration projects, Pakistan has also recently become active on the global green finance market, looking to access finance for environmentally friendly projects and decrease its reliance on fossil fuels.
Pakistan said that the World Bank estimated the country’s new plantation projects would be worth $500mn, and that the valuation could go up to $2.5bn if carbon pricing estimates went up.
Khan said global green financing and the valuation of natural assets provided good incentives to the developing world to protect the environment.
“If you can prove to the people that by protecting your environment you can actually gain something as well, that means you have more buy-in from the people,” he said. “Remember: hungry people do not really care for the environment.”
Prime Minister Khan also spoke about the situation in Afghanistan.
He said that Pakistan is pushing for a political settlement in Afghanistan before foreign troops leave later this year, to reduce the risk of civil war in its western neighbour.
The US has said that it will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan on September 11, after a two-decade presence.
More than 20 allied countries plan to follow suit.
“There is a lot of fear right now in Pakistan, and I assure you that we are trying our level best that there is some sort of political settlement before the Americans leave,” Khan told Reuters.
Violence in Afghanistan has risen sharply since the troop withdrawal announcement, with the insurgent Taliban resisting pressure from Washington and its allies to agree to a political understanding leading to a peace deal.
“Since the moment the Americans gave a date, of when they were going to leave Afghanistan ... the Taliban feel they have won the war,” Khan said, adding that it is not going to be easy to get concessions from the Taliban after the US decision.
The prime minister said that Pakistan would suffer the most, after Afghanistan itself, if there is civil war and a refugee crisis.
“And then there would be pressure on us to jump in and become a part of it,” Khan said.
He said his government had changed Pakistan’s decades-long policy of pushing for “strategic depth” in Afghanistan to ensure that there was a friendly government there.
“Any Afghan government chosen by the people is who Pakistan should deal with,” Khan said, adding that Pakistan “should not try to do any manipulation in Afghanistan”.
Pakistan has long been accused of harbouring leaders and fighters of the Taliban, whom Islamabad helped to power in 1996, even as the insurgent group fought US-led foreign troops.
Khan said a lot depended on US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, with Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s help, to carve out a settlement to avoid more bloodshed.
The prime minister also talked about the situation in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Khan said that Pakistan is ready to restart talks with arch-rival India if Delhi provides a roadmap towards restoring the previous status of Kashmir.
The two nuclear-armed neighbours both control parts of Kashmir but claim it in full.
In 2019, India withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir’s autonomy in order to tighten its grip over the territory, sparking outrage in Pakistan, the downgrading of diplomatic ties and a suspension of bilateral trade.
“If there is a roadmap, then, yes, we will talk,” Khan said.
Previously, Khan and his government have held that India would have to first reverse its 2019 steps for any normalisation process to begin.
“Even if they give us a roadmap, that these are the steps that we will take to basically undo what they did, which is illegal, against international law and United Nations resolutions ... then that is acceptable,” the prime minister said.
India’s external affairs ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Khan said that he has always wanted a “civilised” and “open” relationship with India.
“It is common sense that if you want to reduce poverty in the subcontinent, the best way is to trade with each other,” he said, referring to the example of the European Union.
In March Pakistan deferred a decision by its top economic decision-making body to restart trade with India until Delhi reviewed its moves in Kashmir.
He said India had crossed a “red line” by revoking the autonomy of its part of Kashmir.
“They have to come back for us to resume dialogue,” Khan said, adding, “at the moment there is no response from India”.
Earlier this year, Indian officials said the two governments had opened a back channel of diplomacy aimed at a modest roadmap to normalising ties over the next several months.

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