PM Imran warns global community of impending refugee crisis in South Asia

Updated 13 Feb 2020

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Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the first Global Refugee Forum as a co-convener in Geneva on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the first Global Refugee Forum as a co-convener in Geneva on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi receives Prime Minister Imran Khan at the UN Office in Geneva on Tuesday. — Photo by author
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi receives Prime Minister Imran Khan at the UN Office in Geneva on Tuesday. — Photo by author
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives in  Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to co-convene the first Global Refugee Forum. — DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday to co-convene the first Global Refugee Forum. — DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday warned the global community of a big refugee crisis in South Asia as a result of the Narendra Modi-led Indian government's policies.

The prime minister, while addressing the first Global Refugee Forum as a co-convener in Geneva, said, "I want to tell the whole world that they should be aware of the biggest impending refugee crisis [in South Asia]."

Elaborating his viewpoint, he said that since August 5, more than 8 million Kashmiris have been under siege because of the lockdown by India. He warned that a humanitarian crisis will follow once the siege ends.

He said that the Indian government ended the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 5 to change the demography of Kashmir from Muslim majority to Muslim minority. "If this is what the professed aim is, we are likely to have another refugee crisis, one that would lead to other crises," he added.

"We know from our past experience that prevention is better than cure. If the world acts right now and puts pressure on the Indian government, we can prevent this crisis.

"It is time for the world to take notice of the situation in Kashmir," the prime minister urged, adding that he had previously also asked the world to pay attention to what is happening in occupied Kashmir.

He then pointed to the registration process in Assam and the discriminating legislation regarding citizenship — which the Indian parliament passed earlier this month amid protests — and said these moves by the Indian government were discriminatory measures against Muslims.

Talking about Pakistan's role in handling refugee crisis, he said that Islamabad hosted 1.4 million Afghan refugees and continued this hospitality for 40 years. He added that currently Pakistan was hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees while the total number of Afghans in Pakistan are 3 million.

He said that Pakistan has also been facilitating Afghan peace process so refugees could go back with dignity.

Earlier, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called for a smart and comprehensive plan to address the refugee crisis.

The high commissioner expressed confidence that the global forum would come up with an array of initiatives and pledges to truly express solidarity with the refugees.

Upon arrival at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) in Switzerland, the premier was received by Grandi.

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Meeting with Turkish President Erdogan

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of Global Refugee Forum in Geneva.

According to a press release issued by Prime Minister's Office, the two leaders held discussions on a wide range of subjects. The premier underlined the importance of the 6th Session of High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) to be co-chaired by the two leaders early next year in Islamabad.

The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s deep appreciation for Turkey’s steadfast support on the Jammu and Kashmir issue, including Turkey’s active role in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Imran also lauded Turkey’s measures to host the largest refugee population in the world and underscored the importance of the international community providing requisite support to the countries hosting large refugee populations.

The two leaders, according to the statement, exchanged views on important regional and international issues and expressed satisfaction over commonality of views between the two countries on major issues.

PM arrives in Geneva

The premier arrived in Geneva on Monday ahead of the forum. According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister's Office, the premier was accompanied by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.

Upon his arrival in Geneva, Prime Minister Imran was received by Pakistan's Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan's ambassador to Switzerland Ahmad Naseem Warraich, permanent representative at the Mission of Pakistan to the World Trade Organisation Muhammad Mujtaba Piracha as well representatives of the Swiss government and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

"Co-convening of the GRF is recognition of Pakistan’s generosity, humanitarian leadership, and compassion of the people of Pakistan towards their Afghan brothers and sisters for the past forty years," the press release said.

Prior to his visit to Geneva, Prime Minister Imran visited Bahrain where he was awarded the country's highest civil award by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.