LAHORE - An international conference on “Migration and Displacement” Tuesday began at the Government College University Lahore under the auspices of Political Science Department and Centre of China Studies. Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana the Chief Guest on inaugural session of the three-day conference also attended by twelve foreign speakers from China, Belgium, Nepal, Bulgeria and Tajikistan.

In his address, the governor said that there was no justification to ask Pakistan to ‘do more’. “We have been hosting and helping millions of Afghan refugees for the last many decades. And, then we are also the most sufferers of terrorism which was fought very well by our armed forces and law enforcement agencies,” he added.

He told the foreign delegates that perception, created by international media about Pakistan, was wrong. “We are a peaceful country with a huge potential for foreign investment and tourism. I hope you go back to your countries and tell your people the real story of Pakistan,” he added.

In his key note address, Prof Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, an eminent political scientist and Old Ravian said that migration was a major challenge to humanity and global efforts were needed to deal with it. “Affluent nations have to play a greater role because most of the refugee problems are caused by the international politics; ambitious global agenda of major world powers,” he added. Prof Rizvi hoped that this conference would provide the much needed well-researched and well-documented information, data and analysis on why, how and in what manner refugees and human migrations have implications for domestic and international politics.

Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah said that migration had social, economic and political implications on host states. Also, episodic experiences of displacement certainly leave prints on the personality and psychology of refugees, and deserve serious academic investigation. He appreciated the efforts Political Science Department for hosting an international conference every year on highly pertinent issues.

In his welcoming speech, Prof Dr Khalid Manzoor Butt, the conference chairman said that according to a UNHCR report; globally one in every 122 humans was now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. “If this were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest”, he added. Prof Butt said that Pakistan was the most affected country in the world and had confronted with two biggest migrations in human history: first at the eve of partition in 1947 and second during Afghan war in 1980s. “The Afghan migration caused big challenges for Pakistan, and we are still passing through various national and international issues due to thus migrations and paying the price as the host country, he added. In addition to Afghanistan, he said, that Pakistan had also received refugees from Burma, Myanmar, Bangladesh and some African; some come legally and over stayed and many came illegally.

Prof Butt said that the themes of this conference were not only for Pakistan but for global perspective. “The conference seeks to explore economic, political and social dimensions of Migration and Displacement, covering a wide range of concerns of different stakeholders” he added. He hoped that scholars would shed light on the topic beyond the traditional parameters of academic discussions and contribute in formulation of methodological framework that must comprehend the phenomenon of displacement and migration within the context of regional and global realities and real international politics.

As many as 31 research papers are scheduled to be presented at the six technical session of the conference.