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Afghan refugees’ return linked to peace: Danish

Afghan refugees’ return linked to peace: Danish

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Feb 17, 2020 - 19:17

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Second vice president Sarwar Danish on Monday told an international conference in Pakistaninfo-icon that the repatriation of Afghan refugees was linked to peace in Afghanistaninfo-icon.

The high-profile event in Islamabad was attended by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, diplomats, representatives of international and members of foreign media.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, US special representative for the Afghan peace process Zalmai Khalilzad, ministers, envoys and representatives of a number of countries and agencies also attended the summit marking 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Sarwar Danish on the occasion thanked Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for four decades and for organizing the conference.

“High presence of Afghan refugees in our neighboring countries has also created problems for the host communities but the refugee also play a high role in economic development of these countries,” he said.

He said Afghan refugees were not a burden on host countries, but they proudly worked and earned food with their hard work and even played an important role in economic improvement of host countries by their hard labor.

After 2001, a number of militant groups started recruiting fighters from refugees based in Pakistan. “They started destructive and terrorist attacks against the Afghan government in Afghanistan,” he said.

He said millions of Afghan refugees had returned from Pakistan and Iran after 2001 and the Afghan government welcomed them back home.

He said, “The refugees whether in Pakistan or Iran should not be used as a political tool or a pressing instrument against the Afghan government, our refugees should not face unnecessary pressures for political issues and their human rights should not be violated,” he said.

Danish said the Afghan refugees repatriation should be turned into a normal process based on a joint mechanism observed by the UN.

He stressed gradual repatriation of Afghan refugees and said, “The repatriation should be volunteer and gradual according to international accords and documents and our refugees should be allowed to legally transfer their educationinfo-icon, assets and business to Afghanistan.”

However, he said the real part of peace was between the Talibaninfo-icon and the Afghan government which had not started so far. He said that an agreement between the US and Taliban would solve nothing.

“We hope the agreement between the US and the Taliban would pave the way for direct intra-Afghan talks,” he said.

Danish asked the Pakistani government to cooperate in ensuring peace in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan cannot attain a lasting peace without the partnership and cooperation of Pakistan, he added.

“If the Taliban continue keeping their links with other terrorist groups, it would not lead to a lasting peace even if there is a ceasefire”, he said.

He stressed on ownership of peace process by Afghans and said that basic steps for peace should be followed by reduction in violence and then a permanent ceasefire during peace negotiations.

He called final approval of peace as the authority of the Afghan nation which should be done through parliament or Loya Jirgainfo-icon (Grand Council) or public referendum.

He said the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan had no choice but to maintain friendly relations with each other. He noted that without stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan could never guarantee a lasting stability and could an never achieve its economic prosperity and goals.

Danish said: “Let's all change our narrative. Security-based narrative and threatening narrative have made us all miserable. In fact, we do not see Pakistan as a threat to our national interests, nor is Afghanistan a threat to Pakistan.”

Addressing the event, UN Secretary General said: "The story of Pakistan and Afghan refugees is a story of compassion to be celebrated for many reasons, one of which is that such compassion is missing from much of the worldinfo-icon," said the UN chief.

"For 40 years, the people of Afghanistan faced many crises, for 40 years the people of Pakistan responded with solidarity. “This generosity now spans across decades and generations and this is the world's largest protracted refugee situation in recorded history.”

"This is also a story close to my heart. In my previous life, as the UN human rights commissioner, Pakistan was a familiar destination. During most of my time at the post, Pakistan was the number one refugee-hosting nation in the world.

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