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'International support for Pakistan has been minimal,' says UN chief Guterres

'International support for Pakistan has been minimal,' says UN chief Guterres

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that whenever he has visited Pakistan he has seen "remarkable resilience and commitment to the Afghan brothers. [...] even when international support was minimal."

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.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, as well as ministers and senior officials from around twenty countries are participating in the conference.

Earlier, Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Afghan refugees are seeking greater global commitment to the Afghan peace process.

"Even today we continue to host three million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees," Qureshi said while adding that these efforts are based on the Islamic principles of hospitality for compassionate crowds.

"Today, afghan refugees worldwide are looking for sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan," he added.

"A joint support platform by Pakistan, Iran and the UNHCR was formed with the aim to promote and support refugee return and enhance the capacity of sustainable reintegration of Afghan refugees within in their society," Qureshi said.

Addressing the conference earlier, Commissioner Grandi said that while Afghan refugees wait for the opportunity to go back home they deserve the chance to build homes, educate their children and to move freely.

"The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was, for 22 long year, the largest host of Afghan refugees. The recent measure of allowing Afghan refugees to hold bank accounts is a welcome step which will help in better economic integration for them," Grandi said.

"For the last 40 years, as we have heard, the people of Pakistan have stood with their Afghan neighbours. Through the early days of upheaval and displacement, when a third of the population fled the country in just a few years. [Pakistan also stood with the people of Afghanistan] Through moments of hope when they returned back home seeking stability.

"Pakistan has been with Afghanistan through hardships and times of renewed conflict and uncertainty. And through years of efforts to rebuild a fractured nation," he said while concluding that a lot of effort still needs to be made in order to successfully execute the Afghan peace process.

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