By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan is organizing a organising an international conference to mark the 40-year-long stay of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees in the country on February 17-18 in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
About 2.5 million Afghans live in Pakistan since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the two-day moot titled as “40 Years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity” in the capital Islamabad .
“UNHCR Filippo Grandi, ministers and senior officials from around 20 countries, who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe and in Pakistan, will be participating,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said in a statement on Sunday.
Senior level participation is also expected from the UN, multilateral developments banks, civil society and private sector.
“This conference is taking place at a critical juncture when efforts at consolidating peace in Afghanistan are making progress,” Aisha Farooqui said.
According to the statemen, the meeting will provide an opportunity to highlight the “exemplary compassion, generosity and hospitality exhibited by Pakistan, in hosting one of the largest refugee populations in the world”.
The FO spokesperson said the conference would also identify key developments and milestones in the 40-year-long evolution of the Afghan refugee situation, reflect on the lessons learned, identify the challenges, and discuss solutions for voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan.
“Pakistan is confident that the conference will reinforce international efforts as agreed to in the UN Global Compact on Refugees and Global Refugee Forum to bring about a renewed focus on the Afghan refugees,” she said.
“It will also help in building a positive narrative on refugees, especially at a time when borders are being closed on them and millions are being made stateless under nationalistic and ideological pretences.”