Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said with hosting of Afghan refugees for four decades, Pakistan has a sincere resolve towards sustainable peace in the conflict-hit country and also to ensure smooth repatriation of Afghans. “People of Afghanistan deserve peace and we will continue to facilitate the negotiation process by taking it in the right direction,” the prime minister said in his address at the Refugee Summit marking 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The high-profile event 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. Imran Khan said conflict in Afghanistan is clearly not in the interest of Pakistan, and stressed that continuous efforts were made by Pakistan to restore peace in Afghanistan. He mentioned that Pakistan hosted the Afghan refugees since 1979 and has become the second largest refugee hosting nation with 2.7 million people. He said despite economic challenges, Pakistan throughout provided facilities related to education, vocational training and also social inclusion of Afghans. The prime minister categorically dismissed the statement of Afghan Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh, who on the occasion accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists in refugee camps responsible for instability in Afghanistan. “There are no safe havens [of terrorists] in Pakistan,” Imran Khan said, adding that such scenario could have a possibility soon after 9/11 as militants fled Afghanistan. However, he pointed out that keeping a complete check of refugee camps with over 500,000 people, could be difficult for any government. He said Pakistan has started border fencing to keep a vigil on the situation, stressing that it should be rest assured that instability in Afghanistan is not in Pakistan’s interest. He said the entire leadership in Pakistan, including civilian and military, is on the same page for its commitment to peace in Afghanistan. He said ensuring connectivity between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia is future of the region’s development and prosperity that requires commitment by all stakeholders. Imran Khan mentioned the presence of US Special Representative on Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on the occasion, terming it a testament of goodwill for peace in Afghanistan. He said the people of Afghanistan suffered the most in recent history and stressed that it is responsibility of the world to share the burden with Pakistan. He said the ‘pleasant side’ of Afghan refugees in Pakistan is rearing of a professional cricket team of Afghanistan of its own, who recently defeated the under-19 Pakistani cricket team. He said Pakistan is humbled to follow the Islamic traditions of meting out good treatment to migrants and therefore extended best possible care to Afghan refugees. He drew the attention of audience towards blatant human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir where minorities particularly Muslims, are marginalized. He said the racist ideology of incumbent Indian government has severe implications and urged upon the United Nations to take notice of the situation. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said international support for Pakistan to tackle the refugee crisis has been minimal compared to its own national efforts. “As we look at the challenges ahead, the global community must step up,” he said. “Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned, now it is time for the international community to act and to deliver. 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. “On the one hand, we mark 40 years of unbroken solidarity but on the other hand we also bear the despair of 40 years of unbroken hostility,” he said. “People of Pakistan have extended generosity to the Afghan refugees for 40 years, and this story is very close to my heart,” he added. Afghanistan’s Second Vice President stressed the Afghan government fully supports negotiations between the United States and Taliban for durable peace, however emphasized on the importance of direct talks with the Afghan government as well. He said unfortunately, the constitutional political setup in Afghanistan after 2001, faced resistance from some anti-Afghan groups. He called for a joint programme and mechanism with an oversight of the United Nations to facilitate repatriation of Afghan refugees through a planned process in a voluntary and gradual manner. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Afghan displacement could only be resolved through peace. He acknowledged that Pakistan’s generosity to Afghan refugees for four decades, had a cost in shape of impact on local economy, infrastructure, security and environment. He commended Pakistan for allowing the Afghan refugees to open bank accounts and urged upon the donors for further development of resources to address the problems of a large number of refugees. He recalled that as the UNHCR representative in Afghanistan, almost 20 years ago, he was personally part of a collective extraordinary effort to support 3 million Afghans return home after years of exile. He said even today, Pakistan and Iran together continued to host 90 per cent of registered Afghan refugees globally – some 2.4 million people, and welcomed the constructive dialogue between the governments of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, in the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, launched together with UNHCR in 2012. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said nearly three generations of Afghan refugees were sheltered in Pakistan for 40 years. He said no state could tackle the problem of refugees alone and called upon the international community to join hands with Pakistan for a dignified return of Afghan refugees. He said a joint global action was needed to share the burden of refugees with reinforced existing partnerships and enhanced social and economic participation.