ISLAMABAD        -         Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Geneva to attend the first-ever Global Refugees Forum beginning on December 17, the Foreign Office announced yesterday.

At his weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said the forum was being held in recognition of Pakistan’s generosity, hospitality and compassion for hosting the Afghan refugees for over 40 years.

This is the first major meeting on the refugees of 21st century and it will be jointly hosted by the UN Refugee Agency and the government of Switzerland. Several heads of states are expected to join Prime Minister Imran Khan as co-conveners.

Pakistan, he said, had welcomed the announcement regarding the resumption of the US-Taliban talks. “We hope that it will lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and ultimately to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Pakistan encourages all parties to the conflict to engage constructively as a shared responsibility,” he said.

Faisal said that Pakistan had always maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. “An inclusive peace and reconciliation process, involving all segments of the Afghan society is the only practical way forward,” he added.

The spokesperson said that the Prime Minister will also participate in the Kuala Lumpur Summit due to take place in Kuala Lumpur from December 18 to 20 on the invitation of Malaysian counterpart Mahathir Mohammad.

“The Kuala Lumpur Summit is a platform to exchange views on the current challenges and to work together to address them. The summit will provide Pakistan with the opportunity to exchange views and find solution to the challenges facing the Muslim world, particularly governance, development, terrorism and Islamophobia,” he said.

The spokesperson said that the summit will also provide us an opportunity to foster cooperation in diverse areas with the participating countries.

Voicing concerns over the situation in occupied Kashmir, Dr Faisal said that the humanitarian nightmare is worsening in the valley with continued military lockdown and complete communications blackout. This is affecting the life and property of millions of Kashmiri people who have been cut off from the rest of the world.

He urged the international community including the United Nations to take notice of the brutal suppression of the religious rights and freedoms of Kashmiri people as there would be no peace without the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Faisal that said India should immediately restore internet and mobile phone services, release all the prisoners and remove all the draconian laws. He said India should allow international media and human rights observers to visit Occupied Kashmir to independently observe the situation there.

He said that Kashmir was an outstanding dispute and its resolution only lies in the aspirations of Kashmiri people. He said Pakistan stands by the oppressed Kashmiris and there has been no change in our Kashmir policy.

Faisal said Pakistan had have categorically rejected Pakistan’s specific biased remarks in India-Japan joint statement of the first foreign and defence ministers meeting held on 30th November. He said those one-sided remarks have nothing to do with the ground realities.

He said Japan was well aware of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war on terrorism and the same were also acknowledged by the then Japanese Foreign Minister during his visit to Pakistan in January last year.

The spokesperson said Pakistan had registered its strong disappointment and concerns to the Japanese side through diplomatic channels. He said Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with Japan which is free from any historical baggage. He hoped Pakistan and Japan will continue to work together for advancement of shared goals for peace and development.

When asked about reports regarding a Sikh Yatri (pilgrim) who allegedly went missing from the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, there was no confirmation of the event so far.

Faisal said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an Envoys Conference focused on Africa last month. “This is a highly significant initiative taken by the government to enhance our relations with the African nations, in diverse fields. It must be noted that Africa is the second largest continent of the world with 20% of the world’s landmass and 54 sovereign states, with 1.2 billion people and the largest youth population on the globe. Henceforth, the tilting of focus towards this region will allow us to tap the hitherto untapped opportunities,” he elaborated.

He said that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi paid an official visit to Sri Lanka this month and held talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

“During the meetings, the Foreign Minister highlighted the importance that Pakistan attaches to its relations with Sri Lanka, which are rooted in history and characterized by friendship and cordiality,” he said.

On November 29, he said, Pakistan was re-elected as a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Executive Council for another two-year term (2020-2021).