UNITED NATIONS: In a historic move, a committee of the UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution on sexual harassment that would urge governments to condemn violence against women and girls,
The resolution passed on Monday by the 193-member Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, cultural and humanitarian questions, calls on states not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to
avoid their obligations with regard to the elimination of violence against women and girls.
The non-binding resolution urges states to take effective action to prevent and eliminate sexual harassment against women and girls, to address structural and underlying causes and risk factors, and to protect victims of all forms of violence, including sexual harassment.
It calls on states to address discrimination that places women and girls at greater risk of exploitation, violence, and abuse, and to take appropriate action to empower and protect them.
The resolution calls on states to take necessary measures to ensure that employers in all sectors are held accountable when they fail to abide by laws and regulations addressing sexual harassment.
The text calls on states to encourage digital technology companies, including Internet service providers and digital platforms, to strengthen or adopt positive measures with a view to eliminating violence and sexual harassment in digital contexts.
It also urges states to ensure the promotion and protection of the human rights of all women and their sexual and reproductive health, and reproductive rights.
As the committee debated, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the launch of a UN awareness-raising campaign that violence against women and girls was a “global pandemic.”
“Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free of fear, violence, and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world,” Guterres said.
ADB to provide $7.528 bn to Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has planned to support Pakistan with lending of $7.528 billion for various development projects during the next three years.
In its new Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for Pakistan 2019-21 revealed on Thursday, the ADB has proposed a sovereign lending program for next three years worth $7.528 billion, consisting of $5.37 billion from regular Ordinary Capital Resource (OCR) lending and $2.158 billion from Concessional COR Lending (COL). COL includes a carryover of $600 million from 2018. The non-lending program for 2019–2021 is $21.7 million, including transaction technical assistance for various pipeline projects. An amount of $2.245 billion in ADB loan financing is allocated for the energy sector, which is 29.8 percent of the total pipeline for 2019–2021.
The pipeline includes a multi-tranche financing facility for Transmission Strengthening (tranche 1) for National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Hydropower Development Project for Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), and support for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline Project. For the transport sector, some $1.394 billion of ADB loan financing for the sector (18.5% of the total pipeline) have been allocated for the transport sector. The pipeline includes the Sustainable National Highway Project and the Sindh Hyderabad Southern Bypass Project.
ADB also proposes support for the revitalization of Pakistan Railways to improve transport sector sustainability, including exploring non-conventional financing arrangements. For agriculture, natural resources, and rural development, ADB has allocated $794 million in loan financing to the sector (10.6% of the total pipeline). The pipeline includes the Greater Thal Canal Irrigation Project, the Kurram Tangi Water Resources Project, and the Smaller Cholistan Water Resources Development Project. Similarly, for water and other urban infrastructure and services, the ADB has allocated $470 million in ADB loan financing (6.2% of the total pipeline). The pipeline includes a cross-sector project readiness facility for Punjab and the Punjab Cities Improvement Project. ADB has also allocated $2.4 billion in loan financing to the finance and public sector management sectors (31.9% of the total pipeline).
The COBP, 2019-2021, includes new projects such as trade and competitiveness program (subprogram 1) in 2019; financial markets development in 2020; infrastructure financing and PPPs in 2021; as well as the second phase of support for the Benazir Income Support Program in 2020. The education and health sectors pipeline includes $225 million in loan financing (3.0% of the total pipeline). ADB’s re-engagement in education and health sectors includes $175 million for projects on secondary education in Sindh and improving workforce readiness and skills development in Punjab, and $50 million projects to improve quality of health care services in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
ADB will also provide technical assistance across sectors to help project implementation and to generate and disseminate knowledge products to support policy and project development, as well as to enhance project quality and readiness. Pakistan, a group B developing member country, is eligible for regular OCR lending and concessional OCR lending (COL). The indicative resources available during 2019–2021 for sovereign operations amount to $5,712 billion, comprising $4.29 billion for regular OCR lending and $1.422 billion for COL. The final allocation will depend on available resources, project readiness, project performance and debt distress rating of the country among others. ADB’s non-sovereign operations will supplement these resources. ADB will also explore co-financing from other sources and seek financing from the regional pool under concessional resources and regular OCR for regional cooperation and integration.
Russian military chief accuses NATO of buildup on borders
MOSCOW: A senior Russian military official on Wednesday warned of a buildup of NATO forces close to the country’s borders, the defense ministry said.
Valery Gerasimov, head of Russia’s General Staff, “noted a strengthening of NATO’s frontline military presence close to Russia’s borders”, while meeting the commander of NATO forces in Europe Curtis Scaparrotti.
Gerasimov added that “this doesn’t help reduce tensions” between Moscow and the alliance, said a defense ministry statement after they met in Baku, Azerbaijan.
NATO and the US have accused Russia of violating a Cold War arms control treaty (known as the INF) with ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 kilometers ( to 5,500 kilometers, which Moscow denies.
The US last week warned it would withdraw from the treaty signed in 1987 within 60 days if Russia does not dismantle missiles that the US claims to breach the deal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned such a move would only push Moscow to develop nuclear missiles banned by the treaty.
US pronouncement about religious freedom in Pk rejected
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office has totally rejected the United States’ pronouncement about religious freedom in Pakistan as politically motivated.
In a statement, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal categorically stated Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities. He said besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise. The spokesperson said Pakistan is a multi-religious and pluralistic society where people of diverse faiths and denominations live together. Around 4 percent of our total population comprises citizens belonging to Christian, Hindu, Buddhists and Sikh faiths. He said ensuring equal treatment of minorities and their enjoyment of human rights without any discrimination is the cardinal principle of the Constitution of Pakistan. Special seats have been reserved for minorities in the Parliament to ensure their adequate representation and voice in the legislation process.
A vibrant and independent National Commission on Human Rights is functioning to address concerns on violation of the rights of minorities. Foreign Office spokesperson pointed out that successive Governments have made it a priority that the rights of citizens belonging to minority faiths are protected as guaranteed by the law and the Constitution. The higher judiciary of the country has made several landmark decisions to protect the properties and places of worships of minorities. He said Pakistan has devised legal and administrative mechanisms to safeguard the rights of its citizens. The spokesperson regretted the proponents of human rights worldwide close their eyes on a systematic persecution of minorities subjected to alien domination and foreign occupation such as in the Indian occupied Kashmir. He said an honest self-introspection would also have been timely to know the causes of the exponential rise in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the US.