Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday reaffirmed that Pakistan seeks peace in Afghanistan as instability in the war-torn country is not in its interest.
“It is my belief that the people of Afghanistan have suffered more than any other human community and I pray from my heart that these peace talks are successful,” said PM Imran in reference to the ongoing talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban in Doha.
The premier was speaking at the two-day international conference titled “40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity” which began in Islamabad today.
The prime minister said that the whole country was on the “same page” with regards to Afghanistan. He added that previously it was said that the government and the country’s security forces were not on the same page, however, this was not the case at the moment.
The premier highlighted that Pakistan was not seeking peace in Afghanistan because it has been hosting 1.4 million Afghan refugees, but because the people of Afghanistan deserve peace.
The premier also shared that today’s conference was a celebration “because there were not many instances that those who have been refugees have conducted themselves with honour”. He remarked that Pakistan despite its challenges has kept a wonderful relationship with Afghan refugees.
“A remarkable relationship has endured considering the situation that our [Pakistan] economy has faced,” remarked PM Imran.
PM Imran pointed out that there were “no safe havens” in Pakistan, however, he admitted that it was possible that such safe heavens were operating in the country after 9/11 in the refugee camps.
In the ‘mini-Kabul’ of Peshawar, Afghan refugees mark 40 years in peaceful Pakistan
“How is the government capable of checking how militants operate from the camps,” highlighted PM Imran, adding that it was not possible because refugee camps have had a population of over 100,000.
PM Imran told the audience that Pakistan seeks peace in Afghanistan for humanitarian reasons and to bring prosperity in the areas near the Durand Line.
He assured the audience that since coming to power his government has “done everything to facilitate the Afghan peace process”.
‘Pakistan responded with generosity’:
Earlier, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his address stated that the people of Pakistan for 40 years have responded with generosity in hosting the Afghan refugees.
“Even though major conflict has erupted in some other part of the world; Pakistan is still the second largest refugee host. I am struck by the extraordinary solidarity and compassion,” remarked the UN chief.
He added that the UN has been proud to work with Pakistan in hosting the Afghan refugees.
However, Guterres noted that that international support for Pakistan in tackling this problem has “minimal” compared to the efforts of the Pakistani government.
“The global community must step up,” urged the UN chief
Earlier, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also addressed the conference. Ministers and senior officials from around twenty countries, who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe and in Pakistan are also participating in the conference.