ISLAMABAD: 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 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.
The conference is being organised jointly by the federal government in collaboration with UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, ministers and senior officials from twenty countries are also participating in the conference and is taking place at an important juncture when efforts at consolidating peace in Afghanistan are making progress.
Inaugurating the conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that generosity has nothing to do with one’s bank balance.
“I say it with pride that my country has hosted millions of refugees,” PM Imran said adding that despite economic challenges, Pakistan has kept good relations with Afghan refugees.
The premier said Pakistan is celebrating 40 years of hosting 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.
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