UN chief lauds Pakistan’s generosity in hosting Afghan refugees

Praising Pakistan’s generosity in hosting Afghan refugees for over 40 years, UN chief urged the global community to support

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during his visit to Islamabad, praised Pakistan’s efforts for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for four decades and said that the world “must recognize that international support for Pakistan has been minimal compared to [its own] national efforts” for Afghan refugees.

He was addressing a conference titled ’40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan’ jointly organized by the Pakistan government and UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“For forty years, the people of Afghanistan have faced successive crises. For forty years, the people of Pakistan have responded with solidarity. That generosity now spans across decades and generations. This is the world’s largest protracted refugee situation in recorded history” he remarked.

The UN Secretary-General expressed gratitude for the generosity of Pakistan by opening borders and hearts for refugees.

“In a world where so many borders are closed; in a world where so many refugees are rejected or stigmatized, Pakistan has not only opened its border, but the Pakistanis have opened the doors of their houses, and they have opened their hearts to support Afghan refugees” he said.

UN chief meets PM Imran Khan

In his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, UN Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s support for the work of the United Nations, particularly in UN peace operations. The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s commitment and generous policy towards refugees.

The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also exchanged views on developments in Jammu and Kashmir. The Secretary-General informed the Prime Minister that he continues to follow the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with concern and appeals for maximum restraint and full respect for human rights. The Secretary-General reiterated his readiness to exercise his good offices if both sides agree.

UN chief on Kashmir

On the recent developments in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Secretary-General offered his office for mediation and dialogue. “It is clear that we have taken a position about the need for Security Council resolutions to be implemented and for effective de-escalation and dialogue linked to that, with another very important condition, which is full respect for human rights and [fundamental] freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir” he added.

UN chief meets Army Chief

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed Afghan refugees, Afghan peace process and Kashmir dispute among other matters of mutual interest in a meeting at GHQ on Monday.

He thanked Pakistan for granting full access to United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Kashmir and also commended improved security situation in the country, as well as, positive efforts towards regional peace and stability. He added that there is a need to implement UN resolutions on Kashmir and acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution in UN peacekeeping missions and extraordinary achievements in counter-terrorism.

UN chief meets Foreign Minister

During his meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, UN Secretary-General remarked that: “One of the main purposes of my visit is to spotlight the real Pakistan — with all its possibility and potential.”

“It is deeply rooted in Pakistani culture — from the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah … to the philosophy of Allama Iqbal … to the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. From the courageous example of Malala Yousafzai … to the giving spirit of Abdul Sattaar Edhi … to the visual artistry and advocacy of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy.”

Responding to a question on Afghanistan, he said that “peace among the key Afghan actors is an absolute must in order to fight terrorism effectively, because it is in the context of conflict, that terrorism can spread, and terrorism can prevail. And so, we believe that if peace is established, if all key actors of Afghanistan come together, then it will be possible to isolate terrorist groups. And it will be possible to have a meaningful international support in order to neutralize any terrorist activities in Afghanistan.”

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