President urges early repatriation of Afghan refugees
By Our Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain stressed on Wednesday the need for early repatriation of Afghan refugees and urged the international community to work together to achieve this objective.
`Return of Afghan refugees remains a vital and integral part of Pakistan`s efforts for durable peace and development in the region,` the president said during a meeting with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi who called on him at the Presidency. Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch was also present.
The president said Pakistan looked forward to working with the UN refugee agency`s chief to achieve tangible results on its priority objective of early repatriation of all Afghan refugees from Pakistan.
He said the international community had a great responsibility vis-a-vis the cause ofrefugees,noting that Pakistan had contributed significantly towards it, having hosted millions of Afghans forover three decades.
The president said that in the aftermath of exodus of refugees to the West, there was now a better understanding and realisation about the dimensions and extent of the problem.
`The West should now better appreciate the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in hosting the Afghan refugees as this has been a huge burden shouldered by Pakistan, with associated political, socio-economic, security and environmental consequences.
He emphasised that Pakistan had a legitimate expectation to see the Afghans returning to their homeland for peace and stability in the region.
He urged the world to make combined efforts to combat terrorism and extremism to usher in peace and stability in the whole world and end the refugee crisis in all its parts.
Mr Grandi thanked Pakistan for cooperating in hosting a very large number of Afghan refugees and said his organisation would strive to resolve the longstanding problem by creating conditions conducive to their return to Afghanistan.
The president felicitated Mr Grandion his appointment as the UN High Commissioner.
SCO Summit After the meeting President Hussain left for Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
He was accompanied by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, the foreign secretary and other officials.
Pakistan is set to be accorded permanent membership of the SCO during the summit.
According to APP, Uzbekistan`s Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyav received the president at the Tashkent-One Airport.
President Hussain and the Uzbek leader held a meeting before leaving the airport lounge and exchanged views on bilateral matters.
The president earlier made a stopover in Samarkand where he visited the mausoleums of Imam Bukhari and Emir Temur.
Pakistan became an observer state of the SCO in 2005 and was the first country to apply for full membership in 2010.