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ISLAMABAD, May 21: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said for Asia to gain recovery from post-pandemic health and economic crises, a collective action of countries was necessary including expanding vaccine’s supply and keep economies open.

“To ensure rapid recovery, we in Asia, and elsewhere, must keep economies open, revive disrupted supply chains, and resist protectionist temptations,” the prime minister said in his virtual address at Nikkei’s 26th Conference on ‘Future of Asia – Shaping the Post-Covid Era: Asia’s Role in Global Recovery’.

The prime minister said unless fully contained, the pandemic could create social chaos and threaten peace and security in Asia and elsewhere in the world.

“No one will be safe unfortunately until everyone is safe…The vaccine’s supply and distribution must be immediately expanded, patent rights waived, production ramped up, including in the developing world and the COVAX facility fully extended and funded,” he said.

Imran Khan mentioned that coronavirus had created the worst global health, economic and social crisis in the past 100 years and said it was essential to provide low-income countries a fiscal space and liquidity to respond to the impact of the pandemic, revive economic growth and preserve social stability.

He recalled his earlier proposal of a five-point agenda for debt relief, SDR creation and re-allocation, larger concessional finance, fulfillment of climate finance commitments, and an end to illicit financial flows from developing countries.

He welcomed the extension of the G-20’s debt suspension initiative, the agreement to create $650 billion in new SDRs, expand IDA funding and also expand the emergency support programmes for the Multilateral Development Banks. The recommendations of the FACTI Panel on illicit financial flows must also be implemented, he added.

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The prime minister said if Asian and other countries were to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, they needed to invest massively in new and sustainable infrastructure – energy, transportation, housing, agriculture and industry.

He stressed that less-developed countries must be helped to prepare a pipeline of sustainable infrastructure projects.

To attract private investment, he said, such projects would need to be “de-risked” through blended finance and investment guarantees and incentives.

Imran Khan emphasized on mobilizing science and technology to accelerate sustainable growth through targeted research on innovations and applications required to advance the sustainable development and environmental goals.

He said rapid digitalization of economies was essential to ensure dynamic growth and mentioned the digital divide between advanced economies where with 87 percent of people were online compared with only 19 percent having internet access in poorest countries.

He suggested expanded investment in digital hardware and software to bridge the gap of technology.

Linking dynamic economic growth in Asia with greater physical connectivity, he said, China’s Belt and Road Initiative provided an important pathway to such regional integration across the Asia-Pacific Region and beyond.He welcomed proposals from Japan and others to support and finance quality infrastructure in Asia and elsewhere.

The prime minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, had generated economic activity and employment besides enhancing bilateral and regional trade.He said Pakistan looked towards serving as a geo-economic hub connecting the economies of Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and beyond.

However, he pointed that this potential could not be fully unleashed until the countries did not resolve their outstanding conflicts and disputes.

On Afghanistan, Imran Khan said as foreign forces withdrew from the country, it was imperative to redouble efforts to promote peace process between the Afghan parties.“Pakistan hopes that the violence will be sharply reduced and the Afghan parties will engage constructively to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement,” he added

The prime minister said Pakistan desired peaceful and cooperative relations with all its neighbours, including India. But, he said, India must stop the human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and revisit the unilateral measures it took on 5 August 2019.

He highlighted that it was essential that an enabling environment was created for dialogue to peacefully resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

Imran Khan said the situation in Palestine remained a matter of deep concern for everyone and urged the international community to take urgent actions to stop the Israeli attacks against Palestinians, prevent the desecration of holy places especially Al-Aqsa Mosque and facilitate a just and lasting solution in line with the relevant UN resolutions.

He said it was vital to avoid great-power rivalry and tensions in the Asia-Pacific as there was ample room in Asia for economic, trade and investment participation of all States.

“Asia must not become the theatre of tensions induced from without or within. The differences and disputes in Asia require Asian solutions on the basis of Asian values and interests,” he said.

Imran Khan said the Asia-Pacific, including the Indian Ocean, should become a Zone of Peace, an area of expanding cooperation and prosperity through strict adherence to the principles of the UN Charter and the Bandung Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.

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