World failed Pakistan, Afghan refugees, UN chief says

ISLAMABAD: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that the world “must recognise that international support for Pakistan has been minimal compared to [its own] national efforts” for Afghan refugees.

He was addressing a conference — jointly organised by the Pakistan government and UN High Commissioner for Refugees — titled 40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity in Islamabad.

“We have come together to recognise a remarkable story of solidarity and compassion. It is important to do so because it is a story that spans over decades,” he said.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghanistan Second Vice President Sarwar Danish, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as well as other ministers and senior officials from around twenty countries were present on the occasion.

“The story of Pakistan and Afghan refugees is a story of compassion to be celebrated for many reasons, one of which is that such compassion is missing from much of the world,” said the UN chief.

“For 40 years, the people of Afghanistan have faced many crises, for 40 years the people of Pakistan have responded with solidarity. This generosity now spans across decades and generations and this is the world’s largest protracted refugee situation in recorded history.

“This is also a story close to my heart. In my previous life, as the UN human rights commissioner, Pakistan was a familiar destination. During most of my time at the post, Pakistan was the number one refugee-hosting nation in the world.

“For more than three out of every four years since 1979, either Pakistan or Iran have ranked as the top refugee-hosting country. And even though major conflicts have since erupted in other parts of the world and the refugee population has soared, Pakistan is still today the world’s second largest refugee hosting country in the world.

“On every visit here, I have been struck by their resilience, exceptional generosity and compassion. I not only saw compassion in words but in deeds.

Khalilzad says neighbouring countries played major role in Afghan peace process

US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said on Monday that the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan have played a major role in the Afghan peace process.

During his address, Khalilzad said the solution to the Afghan peace process was quite a difficult one.

“Making warring factions sit together is a big challenge,” said the US envoy, adding that a US-Taliban agreement will pave way for plausible peace in the country.