Pakistani PM Imran Khan makes historic speech at the first ever Global Refugee Forum at Geneva
ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan is trying its level best for the success of Afghan peace process so that the Afghan refugees could return to their homeland with dignity.
Addressing the First Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on Tuesday, he stressed that there is only political settlement of the conflict so that the people of Afghanistan who have been suffering from over forty years of conflict finally can enjoy the dividends of peace.
The Prime Minister said the people of Pakistan hosted four million Afghan refugees with generosity for about four decades and there are still three million refugees in the country including 1.4 million registered ones.
Imran Khan also paid tributes to Turkey for hosting the largest refugee population.
Alluding to the situation in occupied Kashmir as well as neighboring India, the Prime Minister warned the world community of one of the biggest impending refugee crisis is about to take place due to the steps taken by Modi government.
Referring to the revocation of special status of occupied Kashmir by India on 5th of August, the Prime Minister said eight million Kashmiris have been confined to their homes. He said the world must realize that the main aim of the Indian government is to change the demographic composition of the territory from a Muslim majority to a Muslim minority. He said this could lead to a refugee crisis and the world community must take notice of the situation and put pressure on India to stop this illegal activity of settling in the Hindu population in the held valley.
The Prime Minister cautioned the world that the situation in occupied Kashmir could also lead to a conflict between two nuclear armed countries.
Imran Khan said the UN Secretary General must also understand the complications of the steps taken by India in Assam to deprive the Muslim population of Indian nationality as well as the recently passed citizenship act. He said this could have unprecedented consequences and impact on the refugee population. He said the world must step in to control the situation as Pakistan is bound to suffer because of these Indian steps. He said Pakistan is already hosting millions of Afghan refugees and it will not be able to accommodate more refugees.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has hailed the generosity demonstrated by different countries including Pakistan and Turkey for hosting millions of refugees.
He was addressing the First Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on Tuesday.
The UN Secretary General said the international community must do more and shoulder the responsibility to address the refugee crisis. He stressed that we cannot abandon the refugees and their protection is imperative. He said there is need to mobilize international cooperation and solidarity to build the resilience of refugees in their host countries.
Addressing the Global Refugee Forum, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for a smart and comprehensive plan to address the refugee crisis. For this, he said, we need a broad alliance of governments, aid communities, businesses, civil society and academia.
The High Commissioner expressed the confidence that the global forum will come up with a vast array of initiatives and pledges to truly express solidarity with the refugees.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is attending the moot as a co-convener. In his speech, he will also articulate Pakistan’s perspective, experience and contribution to the Afghan refugees.
Text of PM's Speech at First Global Refugee Forum in Geneva
I am honoured to be with the leaders of Turkey, Ethiopia, Germany and Costa Rica to co-convene the first Global Forum on Refugees. I wish to thank the Government of Switzerland and UNHCR for co-hosting this important event. I commend Secretary General Guterres and High Commissioner Grandi for their strong advocacy for refugee causes worldwide. I would like to pay special tribute to President Erdogan and the people of Turkey for hosting the largest refugee population.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
Pakistan was born of the biggest refugee problem in the history of mankind and we were inspired by the Prophet Muhammad (PHUH) who was a refugee.
Pakistan hosted millions of Afghans and still after forty years has 1.4 million and overall Afghans are 3 million.
Countries that do not have resources and cannot look after their own population and are struggling to develop their human resource – a large refugee presence causes problems that cannot be understood by rich countries.
I see problems of European countries with refugees and right wing politics and they cash on the refugee issues.
We know what we go through, as Prime Minister, I can tell you that we face daily problems when people want jobs and refugees can become targets.
I am proud of people of Pakistan, the way they have hosted, and the hospitality they have shown to the refugees throughout these forty years.
Prevention is better than cure. We must prevent people from becoming refugees. We are supporting peace process in Afghanistan and are praying for peace and political settlement in Afghanistan so that people suffering for 40 years in conflict can enjoy dividends of peace.
I want to speak about one of the biggest impending refugee crisis about to take place in India. On August 5, India laid siege of the people of Kashmir. 8 million people are literally shut inside – their rights have been taken - people imprisoned communication cut off. The important thing is that it is meant to change to demography of Kashmir from Muslim majority to minority – we are likely to have another refugee crisis - a crisis that would draw other crises. I asked the world to take notice of this in my address to the UNGA. Whenever curfew is lifted, there are 900,000 Indian troops. They will try to change the demography by settling in hindu population in Kashmir. We know from our past experience prevention is better than cure. If the world puts pressure on India, we can prevent it, but once the crisis starts, we all know, it is complicated and difficult.
One, I want the world community to take notice of what will happen, we are worried this will lead to a crisis.
Secretary General, I am looking forward to invite you in Feb when we host the refugee conference there but this is the time to take notice
In Assam citizen register– every citizen has to prove their citizenship – this is what happened in Myanmar before ethnic cleansing of Muslims, they had to prove citizenship – In India, more than 2 million people, mostly Muslims, are now required to prove that they are citizens. An Indian Minister said that by 2024 it will be all over India.
In a recently passed law, any minority from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, that’s persecuted can find citizenship in India, except Muslims. When every citizen has to prove citizenship – please understand the implications Mr. Secretary General –
There are more than 2 million Muslims in India, so anyone who cannot prove will be de-registered as a citizen while all other religions can seek citizenship on basis of persecution – if 2-3 % of Muslims cannot prove their citizenship, if will be a challenge – riots have already started in India – I ask the international community to look onto it. If a crisis breaks, it is much more difficult to resolve itAs a country hosting 3 million refugees, a country struggling for provision of services to its citizens, we know the consequences. It is time for the World to take notice – What is happening next door can have an impact on the world community, it is unprecedented.Thank you