We thank the Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and Special Rapporteur for Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons for presenting their reports.
Pakistan is disappointed at the suggestion of the SP on the Human Rights of IDPs that “Afghan’s are being pushed back from Pakistan” and “Pakistan has increased the burden on the Government, which lacks resources and capacity”, implying that we are adding to the numbers of internally displaced persons in Afghanistan.
The Special Rapporteur needs to acquaint herself of the brotherly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This could not be farther from truth as our Afghan brethren know it very well. We had opened up our homes and hearts when they needed help and refuge. We can safely say that every second Afghan has benefitted from Pakistan’s generosity, imbued with its Islamic values and traditions, despite our limited national resources and low as well as unpredictable international solidarity.
From Pakistan´s perspective, shared bonds of history and culture characterize Pak-Afghan relationship. The fraternal bonds meant we hosted millions of Afghan refugees for so long, despite global indifference and donor fatigue. Only around 10,000 Afghans from Pakistan have been resettled abroad in the past 15 years. The international community has to play its role in ensuring that the returns are sustainable and the returnees can settle in Afghanistan.
We have 1.2 million documented and around 1 million undocumented Afghans, whereas, unofficially some estimates even reckon figures higher than that, upwards to 5 million as the refugee population experienced natural dispersal into a welcoming society over four decades.
We are struggling with socio-economic, environmental, political and security consequences in addition to dealing with natural disasters (2005 earthquake, the 2010 floods).
Maintaining our welcome of the brotherly Afghans, we have again extended the stay of refugees till 31 December 2017. We are also working on a facilitative visa policy for Afghan refugees to address their medical, education and business related needs in Pakistan.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan himself categorically assured that the Afghan refugees will not be repatriated forcibly. Their return will be voluntary and with dignity. We are evolving a Plan of Action for smooth repatriation and working closely with the Government of Afghanistan and UNHCR.
I thank you.