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Source: United Nations MIL OSI

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday began a three-day visit to Pakistan, recognizing the country’s decades of “outstanding generosity and solidarity” as one of the world’s largest hosts of refugees, and highlighting its place in confronting climate change.  

“One of the main purposes of my visit is to spotlight the real Pakistan — with all its possibility and potential,” Mr. Guterres told reporters in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. 

While in Pakistan, the UN chief will speak at an international conference on Monday marking 40 years of hosting Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, one of the world’s largest and longest-standing refugee populations.  

Organized by the Pakistan Government and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) the conference will also be addressed by the agency’s chief, Fillipo Grandi. The Secretary-General is also expected to meet with refugees and senior Pakistani officials. 

Speaking to reporters after delivering an earlier address on climate change and sustainable development, Mr. Guterres said it was time for the world to take a step back and “look at Pakistan through a wider frame.”  

Indeed, he said, the role Pakistan had played for 40 years in sheltering and protecting Afghan refugees with limited international support, as well as its support to UN peacekeeping, and its steps to take concrete climate action with the ‘ten billion tree tsunami’ campaign among other initiatives, were vital aspects of the South Asian country’s contribution to the region and the wider international community. 

“The United Nations will continue to support Pakistan, and I call on other countries to support Pakistan and indeed show similar leadership in sharing this responsibility in this region and around the world,” said Mr. Guterres. 

More to follow… 

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