United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday said international support for Pakistan to tackle the refugee crisis has been minimal compared to its own national efforts.
“As we look at the challenges ahead, the global community must step up,” the UN secretary-general said addressing the two-day Refugee Summit in Islamabad on 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
“Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned, now it is time for the international community to act and to deliver. Our ability to succeed would be a litmus test on the global impact on the refugees. It’s promise of greater responsibility sharing with countries that have shouldered the burden until now,” Guterres said. “On the one hand, we mark 40 years of unbroken solidarity but on the other hand we also bear the despair of 40 years of unbroken hostility.”
“People of Pakistan have extended generosity to the Afghan refugees for 40 years, and this story is very close to my heart,” he added. Lauding Pakistan’s efforts, the UN secretary-general added that Pakistan has been the top refugees hosting countries in the world. “I see solidarity not only in words but in deeds,” he said. “We know the solution lies in Afghanistan. I hope we can signal a possible pathway to peace for a better future for the people of Afghanistan. I see with US Ambassador Khalilzad who I want to strongly encourage to pursuing the way of peace.”
He underscored the need for a renewed commitment to peace in Afghanistan for the successful repatriation of Afghan refugees. The secretary-general said the Afghan people deserve peace and stability and repatriation with safety and dignity.
“The Afghan people can count on UN to support the efforts of peace,” he said adding that the UN is only here to serve the Afghan people. “We must be realistic and know big challenges lie ahead. But the message of this conference and the presence of so many senior government officials from all over the world is a testament of hope and commitment for a new partnership with solidarity and a better future for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the world, ” he said concluding the speech.
Inaugurating the conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “I say it with pride that my country has hosted millions of refugees and despite economic challenges, Pakistan has kept good relations with Afghan refugees.”
He further said that political leaders have used the refugees’ crisis for personal gain to bag votes and spread hate. Imran stated that following the September 11 terrorist attack, Islamophobia compounded to the miseries of the refugees.
Speaking about Kashmir, the premier stated that the clampdown of Indian forces in the occupied valley could lead to a refugee crisis.
“There will be severe complications if the international community doesn’t raise its voice against Indian gross human rights in violation in the region,” he said.
Prime Minister Imran reiterated his warning that another refugee crisis could arise for Pakistan if the international community failed to take notice of the current situation in India.
The premier said India’s ultranationalist ideology based on Nazism going unchecked could lead to destruction and the region could become a flashpoint.Imran said the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that they can destroy Pakistan in eleven days is not a responsible statement by a premier of a nuclear state with a huge population.
“Because of the Hindutva ideology Kashmiris have been persecuted for over 200 days while living under a lockdown,” Imran stressed adding that under the same ideology, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government passed two discriminatory nationalistic legislation, targeting 200 million Muslims in India.
Imran Khan said that there are no terrorist safe havens in the country Islamabad is doing everything for the Afghan peace process on humanitarian grounds and also prayed for its success. The government and the security forces are on the same page concerning the matter, he affirmed.
“We need peace in Afghanistan for development and prosperity of internally displaced people. Development is only possible through trade and friendly relations, which will also help us to improve our relations with Central Asian states.
“We need peace in Afghanistan for development and prosperity of internally displaced people,” the premier stressed stating that development could only be possible through trade and friendly relations, which will also help both the countries to improve their relations with other central Asian states.
Speaking at the conference, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan is pursuing a policy of return of Afghan refugees with dignity, safety and honor. The minister said peace and stability is indispensable and Pakistan would continue supporting an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.
“Every refugee is hoping that peace restores leading to repatriation,” he said. Pakistan has hosted five million Afghan refugees and today three million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan,” he said adding that the Pak-Afghan relations have provided impetus to host millions of Afghan refugees.
He further urged the world to join hands with Pakistan to provide basic needs to the Afghan refugees and enable them to live a dignified life, underscoring the need for international cooperation more than ever before.
“Caring should be a shared responsibility more so when the Afghan refugees expect the world to rebuild their country after restoration of peace,” he stated. Afghan Second Vice President Danish Sarwar said they are thankful to Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for 40 years.
We cannot forget how Pakistan and Iran opened their doors for Afghan refugees,” he said lauding Islamabad’s efforts for playing the role of a brotherly country by hosting millions of refugees.
The second vice president said the Afghan government wants repatriation of Afghan refugees, however, for that, ending the war was imperative.
Addressing the conference UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said for the last 40 years, people of Pakistan have stood with their Afghan neighbours. “Pakistan’s solidarity to hosting refugees is admirable,” he said adding that generosity, however, does not come without cost. The refugee crisis has had an impact on the local economy, infrastructure, and security,” he stated.