ISLAMABAD: United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday said during most of his period as a commissioner, Pakistan was the number one refugee hosting country on the earth.
“For more than three out of every four years since 1979, either Pakistan or Iran have been ranked world’s top refugee hosting countries and there were though major conflicts unfortunately erupting in other parts of the world paving the way for soaring of the refugee population. Pakistan today is the world’s second largest refugee hosting country,” Antonio Guterres said while addressing the event titled ‘40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity’ in Islamabad.
He said on his every visit here, he had been struck by the extraordinary resilience, exceptional generosity and overwhelming compassion.
“I saw solidarity not just in words but in deeds. The generous spirit is fully in line with what I regard as the most beautiful prescription for refugee protection in world history it is found in Surah Al-Taubah of the holy Quran, and I quote, “And if anyone (of the polytheists) seeks your protection then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then escort him where he feels secure.”
He said such protection was accorded to believers and non-believers alike in a remarkable example of tolerance many centuries before the 1951 refugee convention, which defined a concept for refugees and the protection they deserve.
The UN chief said he saw that compassion play out in real time here in Pakistan. He said the United Nations had seen many innovative policies that took root here including biometric registration, access to the national education system, healthcare and inclusion in the economy. “Despite Pakistan’s all challenges, these initiatives have made big difference. Indeed, many have been recognized as global marvel of good practice,” he said.
The UN chief asked the global community to step up help for Pakistan in facilitating the refugees.
He urged the world powers to pursue the way of peace in Afghanistan. UN believed in dignified repatriation of refugees, he maintained.