Afghan people need and deserve peace, prosperity: Guterres
Islamabad, Feb 17 : UN chief Antonio Guterres on Monday called on the global community to step up efforts to help bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan, saying the Afghan people need and deserve peace, prosperity and full respect of their human rights.
The UN Secretary-General said this while addressing an international conference titled '40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity' held here.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, ministers and senior officials from around 20 countries are participating in the conference.
Noting that the Afghan refugee crisis is the world's largest protracted refugee situation in recorded history, Guterres said there is deep impact on the Afghani people due to the protracted nature of conflict, poverty and forced displacement, a report in the Dawn newspaper said.
Guterres emphasised that the Afghan people need and deserve peace and prosperity and full respect of their human rights.
"As we look to the challenges ahead, the global community should step up. As we have marked 40 unbroken years of solidarity, but we also despair at the 40 broken years of hostility," he said.
According to a report in The Express Tribune, Guterres said that a renewed commitment to peace is required in Afghanistan for the successful repatriation of Afghan refugees.
We must be realistic and know big challenges lie ahead. But the message of this conference and the presence of so many senior government officials from all over the world is a testament of hope and commitment for a new partnership with solidarity and a better future for Afghanistan, Pakistan and the world, he said.
"Our ability to succeed would be a litmus test on the global impact on the refugees. It's promise of greater responsibility sharing with countries that have shouldered the burden until now, Guterres said.
Guterres' comments came amidst renewed Afghan peace talks between US negotiator on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban.
US President President Donald Trump abruptly called off the talks with the insurgents in September last year after a US soldier was killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.
Pakistan, which had facilitated the nine-month-long painstaking peace process in Doha, had pushed for the resumption of talks.
In October, Pakistan hosted the Afghan Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
"For 40 years, the people of Afghanistan have faced many crises, for 40 years the people of Pakistan have responded with solidarity. This generosity now spans across decades and generations," Guterres said.
"We must recognise that international support for Pakistan has been minimal compared to your own national efforts," Guterres said.
Earlier, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Afghan refugees were seeking greater global commitment to the peace process, noting that Pakistan hosts three million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees.
"We know the solution lies in Afghanistan and I hope the signals of a possible passageway of peace will lead to a better future for the people of Afghanistan," Guterres said.
"I see with US Ambassador Khalilzad and I want to strongly encourage to pursue the way for peace. The Afghan people can count on the United Nations to support the efforts for peace. We don't seek protagonism, we are here only to serve," he said.