Bilawal’s New York visit ‘a balancing act’

UNITED NATIONS/ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is expected in New York this week to attend a two-day Global Food Security conference at the UN headquarters, and possibly a one-on-one meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Mr Blinken will chair the May 18-19 conference to review the food security challenges triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Ukraine was the main source of food supplies to some African and Middle Eastern nations.

The foreign minister will reach New York on May 17 and address the first session of the food security conference on May 18 at the UN headquarters. He will also address the second session, on May 19, at the UN Security Council.

The foreign minister’s one-on-one meeting with Secretary Blinken may happen on the sidelines of the conference as a separate meeting in Washington seems unlikely.

PPP chairman assures Chinese nationals of complete security; asks ministers to set targets for themselves

The Pakistan mission at the UN is facilitating the foreign minister’s engagement at the food security conference while the embassy in Washi­ng­ton is working on the expected bilateral meeting.

On Thursday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari virtually addressed a Covid-19 summit at the White House and acknowledged that “the US was immensely generous in providing 62 million vaccines to Pakistan”.

He, however, added that “China, from the outset, also supported us tremendously”, underlining Islama­bad’s need to maintain a balance between the two major world powers.

Pakistan’s decision to participate in a conference, which will highlight the impact of Russia’s invasion on food supplies across the globe, signals a major departure from the policies of ex-PM Imran Khan.

Security for Chinese

Also on Saturday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari reassured the provision of security to Chinese nationals and said the government would not rest until the perpetrators of the Karachi attack were given exemplary punishment.

He was speaking at a memorial service held at the Foreign Office to pay homage to victims of April 26 attack in which four people, including three Chinese teachers, lost their lives.

In a bid to reassure the Chinese government, the foreign minister said: “We will also not allow anyone to harm our iron-clad friendship.”

“I also avail myself of this opportunity to pledge complete safety and maximum security for our Chinese friends in Pakistan. You are our guests, and we are determined to ensure your safety and comfort in our country,” he added.

He hailed the three Chinese nationals who were killed in the attack, as “dedicated, caring and loving teachers” and said they were pursuing the noble mission to educate Pakistani students in Chinese language and building bridges between both nations.

Meeting of ministers

Separately, while chairing a meeting of PPP federal ministers on Saturday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari was briefed on future plans of their respective ministries.

According to an official handout issued by the PPP Media Office, Mr Bhutto-Zardari was also briefed on the performance of the ministries by the respective federal ministers and the future plans regarding public welfare.

Speaking on the occasion, the foreign minister said that the immediate solution to the problems of the people was possible only “when you have a strong connection with the common man.”

One of the ministers told Dawn that the PPP chairman had presided over a virtual meeting in which he had also asked them to set targets.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2022

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