Pakistan to co-convene first forum on global refugees

In this undated file photo, Afghan refugee children at a makeshift school in Sector I-12 settlement, Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: UNHCR)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Pakistan to co-convene first forum on global refugees

  • Geneva meeting will be the first major initiative on the topic
  • Nearly 1.4mn Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to Geneva to co-convene the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) which begins on December 17, 2019, the PM’s Office said in a statement released on Monday.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Switzerland are co-hosting the event. 
PM Khan, along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and other leaders from Costa Rica, Ethiopia, and Germany, were chosen. For the initiative in recognition of the exemplary roles played by them for the protection and well-being of refugees.
“The Global Refugee Forum – the first major meeting on refugees of the 21st century – will be jointly hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Switzerland on 17-18 December 2019,” excerpts from the statement read.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will also be speaking at the forum which is expected to galvanize political support and solidarity and broaden the base of commitments from states, international organizations, private sectors, and civil society to deal with the issue.
“The prime minister will articulate Pakistan’s perspective, experience, and contribution to the Afghan refugees. Co-convening of the GRF is recognition of Pakistan’s generosity, humanitarian leadership, and compassion of the people of Pakistan toward their Afghan brothers and sisters for the past 40 years,” the statement read.
During his stay in Geneva, PM Khan will also hold talks with his counterparts and the UN leadership, in addition to attending a luncheon hosted by the UN Secretary-General. 
Around 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan.
On June 28, Pakistan decided to extend the duration of their stay until June 30, 2020.
The UN refugee agency welcomed the government’s decision, commending Pakistan for being “an exemplary host” and vowing to support the government’s policies which promote voluntary repatriation.


Pakistan’s role in Middle East deescalation hailed, says Qureshi

Updated 24 January 2020

Pakistan’s role in Middle East deescalation hailed, says Qureshi

  • Says the country’s diplomatic efforts have produced positive results in the region
  • Informs that US President Donald Trump is planning an exclusive visit to Pakistan this year

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Thursday that Pakistan’s mediation gesture during the Middle East crisis in the beginning of the year was applauded by Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have appreciated Pakistan’s positive intentions behind the mediation effort,” Qureshi said, adding that the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, told him during a meeting in Riyadh that Pakistan was “on the right track and all the regional countries should immediately join hands to deescalate the situation in the Middle East.”
On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Qureshi visited Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States earlier this month to urge all stakeholders to practice “maximum restraint” in the wake of the killing of a top Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a US drone strike in Baghdad.
“With the help of other countries, Pakistan succeeded in its efforts to deescalate the Middle East situation. The country assured everyone it was willing to be partner in peace but could not become part of any other conflict,” Qureshi said.
“I also contacted foreign ministers of other regional states. Everyone understood the importance of convincing the countries concerned to exercise maximum restraint,” he continued.
“I met with the Iranian foreign minister and president. My meeting with President Hassan Rouhani lasted for an hour wherein we discussed how to defuse the situation and minimize tensions in the region,” the foreign minister said, adding: “I shared all the findings of my discussions in Tehran with my counterpart in Riyadh, saying it was Pakistan’s utmost desire to reduce tensions in the region.”
The minister continued that Pakistan wanted to minimize misunderstandings among Muslim states.
“Saudi Arabia is our very close friend while Iran is our neighbor. We don’t want tensions to mount among Muslim countries since that can be harmful for the whole Muslim Ummah.”
Asked about the expected visit of United States President Donald Trump to Pakistan, he said the American leader would visit Pakistan this year.
“President Trump has expressed his desire to pay an exclusive and independent visit to Pakistan which would not be linked to his visit to India. Pakistan is an independent and important country in the eyes of President Trump, therefore he desires to pay an exclusive visit to Pakistan,” Qureshi said.
The foreign minister said it now depended on President Trump’s “schedule where the visit will fit in.”
“It may come before or after the next US presidential election, but it will take place this year,” he said.