Polio eradication a UN priority, says Guterres in Pakistan visit

18 February 2020

In one of the last bastions of polio on the planet, millions of children are being given a fighting chance against the paralyzing and potentially fatal disease. 

During his first official visit to Pakistan as UN Secretary-General, António Guterres stopped at a kindergarten in Lahore on Tuesday, as the country kicked off its initial nationwide polio campaign for the year.

While there is no cure for polio, vaccination can protect a child for life, and the campaign this month aims to reach more than 39 million children.

“Polio is one of the few diseases we can eradicate in the world in the next few years. This is a priority of the United Nations and I am extremely happy to see it is a clear priority for the Government of Pakistan,” said Mr. Guterres.

“My appeal to all leaders, religious leaders, community leaders, is to fully support the Government of Pakistan and other governments around the world to make sure that we will be able to fully eradicate polio.”

Misconceptions and mistrust

Along with Afghanistan, Pakistan is the only place in the world with wild poliovirus transmission, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, the country saw a resurgence of polio, with 144 cases; up from 12 in 2018.  So far this year, there have been 17.

In Pakistan, nearly one-third of children aged 12 to 23 months miss out on basic vaccines, either because they live in hard-to-reach areas, or due to misconceptions about the importance of immunization.

Veteran vaccinator Farzana Shakeel has been pelted with stones, shouted at, and even threatened during anti-polio vaccination campaigns in Karachi.

“To this day, many people in my community think that vaccines are a conspiracy to prevent them from having more children, or to harm them in some way,” she said.

Going-door-to-door to save lives

While at the kindergarten, the UN chief vaccinated three children against polio.

He also met with frontline workers from the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme, a 265,000-strong force that goes door-to-door during vaccination campaigns to ensure as many children as possible are protected against the disease.

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which manages the procurement and distribution of over 1 billion doses of polio vaccines worldwide each year, supports the programme in Pakistan, including through leading in vaccine supply and strengthening partnerships with local communities to build trust in vaccines.

UNICEF/Asad Zaidi | A health worker vaccinates a 4-year-old girl against polio at the door of her house in Bhatti gate area of Lahore Punjab Province, Pakistan.

More than 60 per cent of the programme’s workers are women, and they are critical to rallying support from parents, caregivers and communities.

Vaccination points also are set up at railway stations, bus stops and other transit points nationwide, targeting children who are travelling or on the move, with some 1.7 million vaccinated in 2018.

Immunization activities and other measures are further coordinated with a similar programme in neighbouring Afghanistan, given the frequent population movements between the two countries.

Pakistan’s polio eradication programme currently is re-strategizing its operations and approach to better respond to increased transmission of the virus, according to the WHO Representative in the country.

Dr. Palitha Malipala said this includes incorporating high-level commitment to polio eradication across the political sector and ensuring that health workers are not targeted.

“We will continue to support the Government of Pakistan, who spearhead this initiative in country, to overcome the challenges of the last year and put in place robust measures to ensure a polio-free world for future generations,” he said.

Pakistan-India crossing is a ‘Corridor of Hope’, UN chief says, wraps up visit with call for interfaith dialogue

18 February 2020

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday said he had been moved by the show of religious unity he had witnessed in Pakistan after paying visits to a mosque, a gurdwara and Kartarpur Corridor, the visa-free crossing which allows Sikhs to travel between nearby holy sites on each side of the India-Pakistan border.

“This is a very emotional moment. It is wonderful to see interfaith dialogue” said the Secretary-General, on the last leg of his three-day visit to Pakistan, where, since Sunday, he has pressed for climate action, and praised Pakistan’s compassion for hosting Afghan refugees, as well as the South Asian country’s major contributions to UN peacekeeping.

Speaking to the media at the town of Katarpur his stop at the Corridor, the UN chief said: “It is wonderful to see in the same shrine today Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, maybe Hindus — all worshipping in harmony and in peace”.

Kartarpur is a town located in the province of Punjab (Pakistan) on the right bank of Ravi River. It is said to have been founded by the first guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak in 1504 AD, where he established the first commune. The name means “place of God”.

To facilitate visa-free access to Indian Sikh pilgrims, Kartarpur Corridor was  established in September 2018.

This so-called “Corridor of Peace” was inaugurated on 9 November 2019 on the eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The Corridor links Gurdwara Kartarpur Saheb with Gurdwra Dera Baba Nanak, across the border in India.

Echoing this sentiment of  religious unity and tolerance, Mr. Guterres called the Kartarpur Corridor a “corridor of hope.” He also visited a gurdwara, or Sikh Temple, and the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, he added: “When we see so many parts of the world fighting in the name of religion, it’s necessary to say that religions unite us for peace and the best symbol is this shrine”.

‘Diversity is a blessing not a threat’

The Secretary General has long advocated the importance of interreligious dialogue and interfaith harmony achieve peaceful societies.

“This is the best symbol that we can give for a world in peace and for a world in which there is mutual respect and there is the acceptance of what is different” Mr. Guterres told reporters today, stressing that “diversity is a blessing, a richness, not a threat”.

The Secretary General took the opportunity to pay tribute to the contribution of the Sikh community the world over: “I’m a Christian, but I feel very much at home when I am in a Sikh shrine and where I can pray to God here together with the Sikh community.”

UN Photo/Mark Garten | UN Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) meets religious leaders at Badshahi Mosque in Lahore in Punjab province in Pakistan.

UN committed in helping Pakistan to eradicate Polio

Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General visited kindergarten in Lahore where he participated in the first nationwide polio campaign of the year, highlighting the importance of eradicating polio from the country.

At the school, he met Dr. Yasmin Raashiv, Minister of Health for the Punjab Province, along with several health workers. While there, the UN chief appealed to all leaders, including religious and community leaders, to fully support the Government of Pakistan, and other governments around the world, in making sure that polio can one day be fully eradicated.

He also administrated polio drops to three students.

Pakistan, with the help of international agencies and donors, has made strides in the eradication of polio. However, 110 reported cases since January 2019 have caused concerns.

Mr. Guterres later tweeted: “Important gains have been made, but we need a concerted push to eradicate this awful disease.”

UN News/May Yaacoub | UN Secretary-General António Guterres administers the polio vaccine to a kindergarten student on his visit to Lahore, Pakistan, as part of a nationwide vaccination campaign.

UN 75 Dialogue in Lahore

Among his other activities today was a lively discussion with the students at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

There, he highlighted the importance of the UN 75 dialogues that will be taking place over teh coming year, noting that for the Organization’s seventy-fifth anniversary, he wanted to reach out and hear from youth.

From January 2020, the UN75 campaign will initiate the dialogues in all settings – from classrooms to boardrooms, parliaments to village halls. The aim is to reach as many people as possible: to listen to their hopes and fears; and learn from their ideas and experiences. Anyone can join the global conversation – physically or online, individually or as a group, in every region of the world.

Mr. Guterres stressed that over the next year, the UN wants to make the voices of young people “count in the ways decisions are made , in which strategies are established, policies are defined and actions are implemented.”

He also stated that the aim is not merely a dialogue during the Organization’s anniversary year, but “to establish within the UN mechanisms of institutional dialogue and institutional participation allowing the youth to have an influence in the way the UN shapes its interventions, decisions and strategies”.

“And why is it so important that young people effectively participate in the way we shape decisions today? The main reason for me is because my generation has failed in many aspects, but they failed essentially, in three basic questions that will determine the future,” said Mr. Guterres, citing failures on climate change, on making globalization work for all, and in making sure that new technologies are a force for good.

Finally, he said: “I believe that the youth must have a fundamental voice, but not only a fundamental voice, a fundamental role in the shaping of our common future. And I want to make the UN75 anniversary the moment in which I will try to talk as little as possible and to listen as much as possible.”

The Secretary-General wrapped up his time at the university by listening to the gathered students and exchanging views with them on issues such as human rights and climate change, and also about the important role of the UN.

World must ‘step up’, match Pakistan’s compassion for refugees, says UN chief

17 February 2020

Pakistan’s solidarity and compassion for hosting Afghan refugees is a remarkable blueprint that the rest of the world should follow.

That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who spoke at an international conference in Islamabad – where he also called for a renewed push for peace in Afghanistan.

“Working towards solutions for the Afghan people is not just a sign of solidarity; it is in the world’s best interest,” added Mr. Guterres.

The UN chief spoke alongside Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which jointly convened the conference with the Government of Pakistan.

For his part, Mr. Grandi said Pakistan, and Iran, had been with Afghan refugees through “bitter times of hardship and loss, renewed conflict and uncertainty.”

“And through years of efforts to rebuild a fractured nation and secure the peaceful future that the people of Afghanistan deserve,” he added.

Both UN leaders remarked on the “story of solidarity and compassion”, the solidarity of the people of the host countries; and the courage and resilience of the Afghan people, with Mr. Guterres noting that has seen “compassion play out in real time here in Pakistan.”

At a press conference alongside Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the UN chief said: “Pakistan has provided the world with a global public good supporting Afghan refugees and it’s time for the international community to assume its responsibilities, and to support Pakistan very meaningfully.”

Mark Garten | Secretary-General António Guterres speaks to young people in Islamabad during a social media moment on the margins of the International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s ‘compassion grounded in vision’

Underlining the fact that Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for 40 years, the Secretary-General noted that since 1979, it has regularly been the world’s top refugee-hosting country.

“Even though major conflicts have since unfortunately erupted in other parts of the globe and the refugee population has soared, Pakistan today is still the world’s second largest refugee-hosting country,” Mr. Guterres said.

We must recognize that international support for Pakistan has been minimal compared to your own national efforts. As we look to the challenges ahead, the global community must step up — UN chief Guterres

Mr. Grandi noted that today, Pakistan and Iran together continue to host 90 per cent of registered Afghan refugees globally – some 2.4 million people. In addition, temporary labour migration and other forms of cross-border movement in the sub-region mean that both countries also host large non-refugee Afghan populations.

But despite Pakistan’s own challenges, the South Asian country’s use of innovative technology in refugee protection, insisting that many initiatives are now recognized as a global model of good practice, said the Secretary-General.

These include biometric registration, access to the national education system, health care and inclusion in the economy.

The UN has worked with the Pakistan authorities to support Afghan refugees, Mr. Guterres said, by implementing aid and development projects across the country – and also by helping Afghans return home.

For them to be able to stay in Afghanistan, he appealed for peace, but also effective reconstruction that creates conditions for their successful return and reintegration.

© UNHCR/Roger Arnold | Afghan refugee children stand outside a school in Islamabad, Pakistan, home to around 3,000 Afghan refugees.

For Afghanistan, a challenging road ahead

“We know the solution lies in Afghanistan,” said the Secretary-General, who noted that the as the Afghan conflict “drags on and on,” the deep impact of the protracted nature of conflict, poverty and forced displacement are clearly evident.

Echoing that sentiment, Mr. Grandi explained that amid the fighting in Afghanistan, “more than 400,000 people were displaced within the country last year alone, by conflict, drought and other natural hazards; and just 8,000 refugees were able to return home through the voluntary repatriation programme.”

Mr. Guterres went on to reaffirm that the preferred durable solution for refugees has always been voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity to their country of origin. This is also true for Afghan refugees.

And Mr. Grandi added: “Working on solutions is all the more important as efforts to revitalize the peace process in Afghanistan continue and hopefully gain momentum. Afghan displacement can only be solved by peace, and peace will be strengthened by solving forced displacement.”

“Returns to Afghanistan, as we both said, have hit a historical low. Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned. Now is the time for the international community to act and to deliver,” stated the UN chief.

He added that the UN was working together on a region-specific Support Platform to assist voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration of refugees in Afghanistan, while providing help to refugees and their host communities in both Pakistan and Iran.

“Peace efforts leading to intra-Afghan negotiations will pave the way, but sustainable peace and security hinges on better integrating our work on humanitarian, development and peace efforts,” said the UN chief, adding: “Done right, this work can be a model for the rest of the world.”

UN Photo/Mark Garten | Secretary-General António Guterres speaks at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan on the topic of peacekeeping.

Calling for a realistic approach and acknowledging the “big challenges lie ahead”, Mr. Guterres stressed that the message of the conference – and the presence of so many senior Government officials from all over the world – “is a testament of hope and commitment to a new partnership for solidarity and a better future for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and for the world.”

Strengthening  ‘Action for Peacekeeping’

Later on Monday, at the Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) in Islamabad, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the heroic 157 Pakistani peacekeepers that sacrificed their lives “to protect the lives of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.”

The Centre, which is part of the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, is one of the most important institutions in the world that support peacekeeping activities in an extremely competent and professional way.

According to UN data, Pakistan is the sixth largest contributor of troops and police, with more than 4,000 uniformed personnel serving in nine United Nations peace operations, including in some of the most dangerous UN missions, such as in the Central African Republic and Mali.

“Pakistani officers are playing an important part as Force Commanders and Chiefs of Staff, and Pakistan contributes critical equipment, including a helicopter unit in Mali”, said Mr. Guterres, noting also that Pakistan was the first country to endorse the Declaration of Shared Commitments on Action for Peace, known by the shorthand  A4P.

Looking ahead, he said that there are several areas for progress within the A4P framework, including:
  • Supporting missions in the most challenging environments to deal with greater security risks than ever;
  • Building greater capacity to improve the protection of civilians through training partnerships and provision of better equipment;
  • Enhancing analytical and intelligence capacities by strengthening direct engagement with the host governments, communities and local people; and
  • Strengthening implementation of the Human Rights Due Diligence policy, including through review mechanisms.

Pakistan, a leader in championing women peacekeepers

The implementation of the A4P by Pakistan was not limited to the enhancement of partnership, it also encompasses many other aspects of the Declaration, including on ‘women, peace and security’.

In that regard, the country has deployed the first-ever Pakistani Female Engagement Team to South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UN Photo/Mark Garten | Pakistani women peacekeepers in the audience at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, where Secretary-General António Guterres delivered an address on the topic of peacekeeping.

“Pakistan is a leader in championing women peacekeepers and an example for other troop contributors”, said the Secretary-General.

He said that this inspiring all-women Pakistani team has implemented successful projects on vocational training, medical outreach and psychological support, and improved information-gathering that feeds into security assessments.

In his experience, as High Commissioner for Refugees, and while being in some of the most dangerous areas in the world, Mr. Guterres saw firsthand how essential it was to have women peacekeepers – both military and police – in order to gain the confidence of populations, to gain the confidence of communities.

“They can do things that us, men, are not able to do – gain the confidence and create conditions for more effective action of our peacekeeping units”, he maintained.

In Pakistan, Guterres urges world to step up climate action, praises support to Afghan refugees

16 February 2020

“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.

The UN chief started out his day in Islamabad by meeting with refugees from Afghanistan, Yemen and Tajikistan. On Monday, he will speak at an international conference 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 during the visit.

Speaking to reporters after participating in a tree planting ceremony and delivering an 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 in sheltering and protecting Afghan refugees with limited international assistance, as well as its support to UN peacekeeping, and its steps to take concrete climate action with the ‘10 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.

‘Our sustainable future is at stake’, but the battle can be won

In his ‘Special Talk on Sustainable Development and Climate Change’, Mr. Guterres noted that “like other developing countries, Pakistan has contributed little to the problem yet faces disproportionate vulnerability because of it.”

Commending Prime Minister Imran Khan for highlighting climate change in his address to the UN General Assembly last September, the Secretary-General also congratulated Pakistan on becoming co-chair of the Green Climate Fund, the UN-backed mechanism that helps developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance their ability to respond to climate change.

Noting Pakistan’s climate-focused initiatives like the ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ campaign and the Clean and Green Pakistan Movement, he expressed his admiration for the decision to abolish plastic bags in Islamabad and elsewhere in the country.

“Plastic pollution is today one of the central concerns that we have, especially for the protection of our oceans”, said the UN chief, who held up a bag made of fabric, and urged everyone in attendance to use similar ones when the did their shopping.

The answer to the climate crisis is global solidarity backed by global action, said the Secretary-General, adding: “We are in a battle for our lives. But I firmly believe it is a battle that can be won.”

Indeed: “Technology is on our side. We have all the tools and knowledge we need to move from the grey economy to the green economy as it was seen in the slides. We have the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UN Photo/Mark Garten | Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) participates in a tree planting ceremony with Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi (second from right), Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.

2030 Agenda: ‘Our common vision for the future we want’

As he went on to urge scaled-up action towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Mr. Guterres acknowledged that today’s challenges to sustainable development and human progress do not respect borders. “They are not confined to individual nations,” he explained.

He noted that Pakistan was among the first nations to integrate the SDGs, including through a national poverty alleviation programme – Ehsaas, or compassion, to expand social protection and safety nets and to support human development. A national youth development programme – Kamyab Jawan – seeks to create 10 million jobs for young people in five years.

But “we are off-track globally”, according to the UN chief, especially in the areas of hunger, inequality, biodiversity and climate action.

“Gender inequality – in business, in the home, in schools, in government, in the technology sector – is denying women and girls their rights and opportunities across the world,” he continued and added that vulnerable populations, such as migrants, young people and persons with disabilities, remain at risk of being left behind.

“Our collective efforts are not approaching the scale we need to deliver the SDGs by 2030,” he said, but stressed that the recently launched Decade of Action calls on governments, businesses, civil society and individuals everywhere to combine to create “unstoppable momentum” for the Goals.

UN Photo/Mark Garten  | Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) meets with refugees in Islamabad during his official visit to the country. Today, Pakistan is the world’s second largest host of refugees.

Inspiring stories of Afghan refugees

Earlier on Sunday, the Secretary General and the head of the UN refugee agency, Mr. Grandi, met with three generations of Afghan refugees, listened to their compelling stories and expressed solidarity and compassion with their cause.

Though this marks Mr. Guterres’ first trip to Pakistan in his capacity as UN chief, he noted that he had visited the country many times during his tenure as UN High Commissioner of Refugees. “I gained an enormous admiration for the resilience, courage, determination, generosity and the solidarity of Afghan refugees,” said Mr. Guterres, adding that he had “drawn inspiration from their courage”.

UN News also had an opportunity to meet some of the refugees, who despite their hardships, had been able to help others and to give back to their communities.

Fazal Nabi, a 35-year-old, born in Pakistan, is passionate about helping refugees with disabilities. He drives a rickshaw to earn his living but spends most of his earnings buying equipment to help persons with disabilities.

Asked what he dream of doing if he took up another job, Mr. Nabi said that he would like to open a factory to manufacture assistive technologies, mobility aids or tools that could ease the everyday lives of persons with disabilities.

Jammu and Kashmir

A reporter at the joint press conference asked a question about tensions in Jammu and Kashmir and the Secretary General explained that he had offered, from the beginning, his good offices in relation to the situation, noting however that “good offices can only work when accepted by both sides”.

He maintained the UN position that the relevant resolutions of the Security Council on the issue should be implemented and for effective de-escalation, dialogue, and another very important condition: full respect for human rights and [fundamental] freedoms of those in Jammu and Kashmir.

When asked about ceasefire violations in the disputed region, the UN chief mentioned his visit to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), noting that it “should have full freedom of movement; it has on the Pakistani side – we hope that this will also be achieved on the other side, and we will be strengthening its equipment capacity in order to better be able to implement its mandates”.

UN Secretary-General’s remarks to press at Kartarpur, Pakistan

Kartarpur, 18 February 2020

This is a very emotional moment — and I cannot be here without having a very strong feeling.

It is wonderful to see interfaith dialogue. It is wonderful to see in the same shrine today Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, maybe Hindus — all worshipping in harmony and in peace.

This is the best symbol that we can give for a world in peace and for a world in which there is mutual respect and there is the acceptance of what is different — recognizing that diversity is a blessing, is a richness, not a threat.

When we see so many parts of the world fighting in the name of religion, it’s necessary to say that religions unite us for peace and the best symbol is this shrine.

I also want to take profit of this occasion.  I’ve been in Amritsar, today I’m here, to pay tribute to the contribution of the Sikh community all over the world for our planet.  I’m a Christian but I feel very much at home when I am in a Sikh shrine and where I can pray to God here together with the Sikh community.

Thank you very much.

UN Secretary-General’s remarks at Pakistan’s Centre for International Peace and Stability

FUTURE CHALLENGES TO GLOBAL PEACE: THE ROLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS VIS-À-VIS A4P

Islamabad, Pakistan, 17 February 2020
[as delivered]

RectorDear Members of the Faculty, Dear students, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to ask you to join me in paying tribute to the heroic 157 Pakistani peacekeepers that sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. So, I would ask you please to join me in a moment of silence.

Thank you. I am very proud to be a colleague of theirs.

It is a great pleasure and an honour for me to be here in the Centre for International Peace and Stability, one of the most important institutions in the world that support peacekeeping activities in an extremely competent and professional way.

We all know that peace does not happen by chance. It is the result of difficult decisions based on solid evidence and facts. The Centre for International Peace and Stability, and institutions like it, are improving our knowledge and understanding of threats to peace and sources of instability.  You are doing important work in the service of peace.

I myself graduated in engineering, and when I see the facilities and opportunities available to today’s students, I sometimes wish I could go back to college.

I know the students of the National University of Sciences and Technology are making the most of your education by aligning your academic studies with the broader goals of sustainable and inclusive development, equal opportunities, environmental protection and social progress.

Science and technology are an excellent starting point for changing the world, and I wish you all the best in your efforts.

Excellencies, dear students,

Pakistan is one of our most consistent and reliable contributors to peace efforts around the world.

Since the first Pakistani deployment to the Congo – as it was referred – in 1960, Pakistan has contributed more than 150,000 personnel to 41 peacekeeping missions in 23 countries.

And as I mentioned, 157 Pakistani military, police and civilian personnel have paid the ultimate price while serving under the United Nations flag. We will never forget their sacrifice.

Today, Pakistan is the sixth largest contributor of troops and police, with more than 4,000 uniformed personnel serving in nine United Nations peace operations, including in some of our most dangerous missions, like in the Central African Republic and Mali.  Pakistani officers are also playing an important part as Force Commanders and Chiefs of Staff, and Pakistan contributes critical equipment, including a helicopter unit in Mali.

I have seen for myself the professionalism, the commitment of Pakistani military, police and civilian personnel in our missions and I thank you for your important contribution to creating a safer and more peaceful world.

United Nations peacekeeping is a beacon of hope for millions of people affected by conflict and instability.

Since 1948, over 70 UN peacekeeping missions have supported countries to make the transition to peace, fostering an environment of stability and development.

But as the nature of conflict changes, UN peacekeeping faces new challenges: rising threats to the security of peacekeepers themselves; difficult relations in several cases with the governments of some host countries; and problems in identifying an end-point and an exit strategy for our missions.

The growth of well-armed non-state armed groups, some of which operate across borders with shifting alliances and no clear political goals, has made it more difficult to negotiate an end to conflict.

The pathways to peace often depend on finding or creating unity of purpose and political will, at the local, national and international levels.

In some places, Blue Helmets are targeted by armed groups. That means we have to expend some of our resources on our own protection.

New digital technologies and the spread of propaganda on social media platforms are changing the face of war. Our peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali have both been targeted by misinformation campaigns.

These new challenges called for decisive and cohesive action by all peacekeeping partners.

Excellencies and dear students,

This is the background to the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, that was launched in March 2018 to revitalize the essential partnership between the United Nations, troop-and-police contributor countries, Host Governments, regional organizations and all who have a stake in peacekeeping.

Pakistan was the first country to endorse the Declaration of Shared Commitments on A4P. I thank the Government of Pakistan for stepping forward to champion safety and security, performance and accountability.

Over the past two years, more than 150 Member States and four partnering organizations have followed Pakistan’s lead.

The Declaration covers eight areas for peacekeeping: political solutions; Women, Peace and Security; protection; safety and security; performance and accountability; sustaining peace; partnerships; and conduct.

It is a blueprint for all our peacekeeping-related work.

The success of A4P depends on all peacekeeping stakeholders upholding their commitments.

We in the United Nations Secretariat have made progress across key areas of the Declaration, including measures to reinforce the security and performance of our peacekeepers. These have resulted in improved casualty evacuation procedures and a decline in peacekeeper fatalities from malicious acts, from 59 in 2017 to 28 in 2019.

It is important to underline that this reduction in casualties is not the result of diminishment of activities, or a more protective behaviour, on the contrary, it is the result of more proactive action of our peacekeepers. It is the fact that they are being much more proactive and based on that more able to intimidate those that would eventually attack them, that it was possible to meaningfully reduce the number of casualties in our peacekeeping operations and at the same time increment the capacity for the protection of civilians by the peacekeepers themselves.

In Central African Republic, where more than 1,000 Pakistani troops serve, an enhanced partnership with the African Union contributed to a peace agreement between the government and armed groups, which is now being implemented. Levels of violence and civilian casualties have fallen.

With the deployment of the first-ever Pakistani Female Engagement Team to South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan is a leader in championing women peacekeepers and an example for other troop contributors.

This inspiring all-women Pakistani team has implemented successful projects on vocational training, medical outreach and psychological support, and improved information-gathering that feeds into security assessments. It is my experience, with ten years as High Commissioner for Refugees, being in some of the most dangerous areas in the world, that to gain the confidence of populations, to gain the confidence of communities, women peacekeepers – both military and police – are absolutely essential, and they can do things that us, men, are not able to do – gain the confidence and create conditions for more effective action of our peacekeeping units.

Looking forward, we see several areas for progress within the A4P framework.

First, supporting missions in the most challenging environments to deal with greater security risks than ever.

Second, we are building greater capacity to improve the protection of civilians through training partnerships and provision of better equipment.

Third, we will enhance our analytical and intelligence capacities, by strengthening direct engagement with the host governments, communities and local people.

Fourth, we will strengthen implementation of the Human Rights Due Diligence policy, including through review mechanisms.

We will continue to work with troop and police-contributing countries to increase the number of women in uniform; to fill equipment gaps; and to set standards for environmental sustainability and accountability.

And we will build on our efforts to hold accountable the small minority of peacekeepers who commit unlawful acts, including sexual exploitation and abuse.

I remember the first meeting I had with the Ambassadors of troop contributing countries when I started my functions.  It is true that three years ago, there was a campaign that was negative and question was very much in the limelight of the international Media. I am very proud of the fact it was possible to completely change that perception and today when we read the media on peacekeeping it is a totally different and a much more positive image that we are able to collect. I am extremely grateful to all countries that assumed leadership in order to have better training, better trainers and better accountability of their forces. This has contributed enormously to strengthen the image of peacekeeping around the world, and Pakistan has been absolutely exemplar in that regard.

We are planning to create a framework, together with our troop and police-contributing partners, to systematize performance evaluation and accountability.

Excellencies, dear students,

Pakistan’s great founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, said the aim of the state should be: “Peace within and peace without”.

United Nations peacekeeping is based on the same principle.

Peace in one place helps to build peace everywhere.

I thank you once again for your important contribution.

And I look forward to discussing all these issues with you. Thank you very much.

اقوام متحدہ

سیکریٹری جنرل

عالمی امن کو درپیش مستقبل کے خطرات پر تاثرات:

اے فار پی کی بابت اقوام متحدہ کا کردار

اسلام آباد، پاکستان، 17 فروری، 2020ء

ریکٹر، محترم اساتذہَ کرام، عزیز طلبا و طالبات، معزز حاضرین، خواتین و حضرات!

میں چاہتا ہوں کہ آپ میرے ساتھ مل کر امن اہلکاروں کے طور پر کام کرنے والے ان 157 پاکستانی ہیروز کو خراجِ عقیدت پیش کریں جنھوں نے دنیا کے بعض کمزور ترین طبقات کی حفاظت کرتے ہوئے اپنی جانوں کی قربانی دی ۔ لہٰذا، میں چاہوں گا کہ میرے ساتھ مل کر آپ کچھ دیر کے لیے خاموشی اختیار کریں ۔

آپ کا شکریہ! مجھے فخر ہے کہ میں ان ہیروز کے ساتھ کام کرتا تھا ۔ یہ میرے لیے بہت زیادہ خوشی اور اعزاز کی بات ہے کہ میں سنٹر فار انٹرنیشنل پِیس اینڈ سٹیبیلیٹی میں آیا ہوں جو انتہائی ماہرانہ اور پیشہ ورانہ انداز میں قیام امن کی کارروائی کو اعانت فراہم کرنے کے لیے دنیا کے اہم ترین اداروں میں سے ایک ہے ۔ ہم سب اچھی طرح جانتے ہیں کہ امن اتفاقاً قائم نہیں ہوتا ۔ یہ ٹھوس ثبوتوں اور حقائق پر مبنی مشکل فیصلوں کا نتیجہ ہوتا ہے ۔ سنٹر فار انٹرنیشنل پِیس اینڈ سٹیبیلیٹی، اور اس جیسے ادارے، امن کو لاحق خطرات اور عدم استحکام کے اسباب سے متعلق ہمارے علم اور بصیرت کو بہتر بنارہے ہیں ۔

میں نے انجینئرنگ میں گریجوایشن کی تھی، اور جب میں آج کے طلبہ کو میسر سہولیات اور مواقع کی طرف دیکھتا ہوں تو میرا کبھی کبھار دل چاہتا ہے کہ میں دوبارہ کالج میں داخلہ لے لوں ۔ میں جانتا ہوں کہ نیشنل یونیورسٹی آف سائنس اینڈ ٹیکنالوجی کے طلبہ اپنے تعلیمی معاملات کو پائیدار اور مجموعی ترقی کے وسیع تر مقاصد، مساوی مواقع، ماحولیاتی تحفظ اور معاشرتی نشوونما سے جوڑ کر اپنی تعلیم سے بھرپور فائدہ اٹھا رہے ہیں ۔ دنیا کو بدلنے کے لیے سائنس اور ٹیکنالوجی ایک عمدہ نقطۂ آغاز ہیں ، اور میں آپ کی کاوشوں کے لیے نیک خواہشات کا اظہار کرتا ہوں ۔

معزز حاضرین، عزیز طلبہ،

پاکستان پوری دنیا میں امن کاوشوں کے حوالے سے ہمارے سب سے ثابت قدم اور باعتماد شراکت داروں میں سے ایک ہے ۔ جیسے بتایا گیا ہے کہ 1960ء میں پاکستان کی کانگو میں پہلی تعیناتی سے اب تک پاکستان 23 ممالک میں 41 امن مشنز کے لیے 150,000 اہلکار بھیج چکا ہے ۔ اور جیسے ابھی ذکر کیا گیا کہ پاکستان کے 157 فوجی، پولیس اور سول اہلکار اقوام متحدہ کے پرچم تلے کام کرتے اپنی جانوں کا نذرانہ پیش کرچکے ہیں ۔ ہم ان کی قربانی کبھی نہیں بھولیں گے ۔ آج، پاکستان وسطی افریقی جمہوریہ اور مالی جیسے ہمارے بعض مشکل ترین مشنز سمیت اقوام متحدہ کی نو امن کارروائیوں میں 4,000 سے زائد باوردی اہلکاروں کے ساتھ سپاہی اور پولیس بھیجنے والا چھٹا سب سے بڑا حصہ دار ہے ۔ پاکستانی افسران فورس کمانڈرز اور چیفس آف سٹاف کے طور پر اہم کردار ادا کررہے ہیں ، اور پاکستان مالی میں ایک ہیلی کاپٹر یونٹ سمیت اہم ساز و سامان بھی مہیا کررہا ہے ۔ میں خود ان مشنز میں پاکستانی فوج، پولیس اور سول اہلکاروں کی پیشہ ورانہ مہارت اور احساس ذمہ داری دیکھ چکا ہوں اور میں ایک محفوظ تر اور زیادہ پُر امن دنیا کی تعمیر میں آپ کے اہم کردار پر آپ کا ممنون ہوں ۔ تنازعے اور عدم استحکام سے متاثر کروڑوں لوگوں کے لیے اقوام متحدہ کا قیام امن پروگرام امید کا چراغ ہے ۔

ء1948 سے اب تک 70 سے زائد یو این قیام امن مشنز استحکام اور ترقی کے ماحول کو فروغ دیتے ہوئے بہت سے ممالک کو امن کی جانب بڑھنے میں معاونت دے چکے ہیں ۔ لیکن تنازعے کی نوعیت بدلنے کے ساتھ اقوام متحدہ قیام امن کو نئے چیلنجوں کا سامنا ہے جن میں امن اہلکاروں کی حفاظت کے لیے بڑھتے ہوئے خطرات، بعض میزبان ممالک کی حکومتوں کے ساتھ دشوار تعلقات، اور ہمارے مشنز کے لیے نقطۂ اختتام اور ان سے نکلنے کے لیے حکمت عملی کا تعین شامل ہیں ۔ غیر ریاستی مسلح گروہوں ، جن میں سے کچھ سرحدوں کے آر پار اتحاد بدل بدل کر کارروائیاں کرتے ہیں اور ان کے کوئی واضح سیاسی مقاصد نہیں ہیں ، کی افزائش نے تنازعے کے خاتمے کو اور زیادہ مشکل بنا دیا ہے ۔ امن کے لیے راستوں کا انحصار اکثر مقامی، قومی اور بین الاقوامی سطحوں پر مقصد کے اشتراک اور سیاسی قوتِ ارادی کی تلاش یا تعمیر پر ہوتا ہے ۔ بعض جگہوں پر، مسلح گروہ نیلے ہیلمٹ کو نشانہ بناتے ہیں ۔ اس کا مطلب یہ ہے کہ ہمیں کچھ وسائل اپنی حفاظت پر خرچ کرنا ہوں گے ۔ نئی ڈیجیٹل ٹیکنالوجیز اور سوشل میڈیا پلیٹ فارمز پر پروپیگنڈا کا پھیلاؤ جنگ کی نوعیت کو بدل رہے ہیں ۔ جمہوریہ کانگو اور مالی دونوں میں ہمارے امن اہلکاروں کو غلط معلومات والی مہموں کی بنیاد پر نشانہ بنایا گیا ۔ یہ نئے چیلنج قیام امن کے تمام شراکت داروں سے فیصلہ کن اور مربوط کارروائی کا تقاضا کرتے ہیں ۔

معزز حاضرین، عزیز طلبہ،

یہ عمل برائے قیام امن اقدام، یعنی اے فار پی، کا پس منظر ہے جس کا افتتاح اقوام متحدہ ، سپاہی اور پولیس بھیجنے والے حصہ داروں ، میزبان حکومتوں ، علاقائی تنظیموں اور قیام امن سے تعلق رکھنے والے سب حصہ داروں کی ضروری شراکت داری کو مضبوط بنانے کے لیے میں نے مارچ 2018ء میں کیا ۔ پاکستان وہ پہلا ملک تھا جس نے اے فار پی کے اعلان برائے مشترکہ ذمہ داری کی تائید کی ۔ میں سلامتی اور حفاظت، کارکردگی اور احتساب میں سبقت لے جانے کے لیے قدم آگے بڑھانے پر حکومت ِپاکستان کا شکر گزار ہوں ۔ گزشتہ دو برس میں 150 سے زائد رکن ممالک اور چار شراکت دار تنظیموں نے اس سلسلے میں پاکستان کی پیروی کی ہے ۔ یہ اعلان قیام امن کے 8 حوالوں پر مشتمل ہے، جن میں سیاسی حل؛ خواتین، امن اور حفاظت؛ تحفظ؛ سلامتی اور حفاظت؛ کارکردگی اور احتساب؛ پائیدار امن؛ شراکت داریاں ؛ اور کام کرنے کا طریقہ شامل ہیں ۔ یہ قیام امن سے متعلق ہمارے تمام کاموں کا خاکہ ہے ۔ اے فار پی کی کامیابی کا انحصار قیام امن کے تمام حصہ داروں کے اپنی ذمہ داریاں پوری کرنے پر ہے ۔

اقوام متحدہ کے سیکریٹریٹ میں موجود ہم لوگوں نے اپنے امن اہلکاروں کی حفاظت اور کارکردگی کو مضبوط بنانے سمیت اس اعلان کے اہم حوالوں سے متعلق کامیابی حاصل کی ہے ۔ اس سب کے نتیجے میں زخمیوں کو شورش زدہ علاقوں سے نکالنے کے طریقہ کار میں بہتری اور معاندانہ کارروائیوں سے امن اہلکاروں کی ہلاکتوں میں کمی آئی ہے، جو 2017ء میں 59 تھیں اور 2019ء میں کم ہو کر28 رہ گئیں ۔ وسطی افریقی جمہوریہ میں ، جہاں 1,000 سے زائد پاکستان سپاہی خدمات انجام دے رہے ہیں ،افریقی یونین کے ساتھ بہتر شراکت داری نے حکومت اور مسلح گروہوں کے درمیان امن معاہدے میں کردار ادا کیا، جو اب نافذ کیا جارہا ہے ۔ تشدد اور سول جانی نقصانات میں کمی آئی ہے ۔

جمہوریہ کانگو میں جنوبی کیوو میں پہلی پاکستانی خواتین ٹیم کی تعیناتی سے پاکستان خواتین امن اہلکاروں کے کام میں سبقت لے گیا اور دیگر سپاہی بھیجنے والے ممالک کے لیے ایک مثال بن گیا ہے ۔ صرف خواتین پر مبنی اس متاثر کن پاکستانی ٹیم نے پیشہ ورانہ تربیت، طبی خدمات کی فراہمی اور نفسیاتی امداد کے پراجیکٹس کو کامیابی سے نافذ کیا ہے، اور معلومات کی جمع آوری کو بہتر بنایا ہے جس سے حفاظتی جائزوں میں مدد ملی ہے ۔ دس سال تک بطور ہائی کمشنر برائے مہاجرین کام کرتے ہوئے دنیا کے بعض خطرناک ترین علاقوں میں جا کر یہ بات میرے تجربے میں آئی کہ مقامی آبادی اور گروہوں کا اعتماد حاصل کرنے کے لیے پولیس اور فوجی خواتین امن اہلکاروں کی موجودگی بہت ضروری ہے، اور وہ لوگوں کا اعتماد حاصل کرنے اور قیام امن یونٹس کے زیادہ موَثر انداز میں کام کرنے کے لیے جیسے کام کرسکتی ہیں ، وہ ہم مرد نہیں کرسکتے ۔

مستقبل کی طرف دیکھتے ہوئے ہم اے فار پی کے ڈھانچے کے اندر ہی ترقی کے کئی حوالے دیکھ رہے ہیں ۔ اول، دشوار ترین ماحول میں ماضی سے کہیں زیادہ حفاظتی خدشات سے نمٹنے کے لیے معاون مشنز کی ضرورت ہے ۔ دوم، ہم عام لوگوں کے تحفظ کو بہتر بنانے کے لیے تربیتی شراکت داریوں اور بہتر ساز و سامان کی فراہمی کے ذریعے استعداد کو بہت زیادہ بڑھا رہے ہیں ۔ سوم، ہم میزبان حکومتوں ، گروہوں اور مقامی لوگوں کے ساتھ براہ راست تعاون کو مضبوط بناتے ہوئے اپنی تجزیاتی اور انٹیلی جنس صلاحیتوں میں اضافہ کریں گے ۔ چہارم، ہم نظر ثانی کے نظاموں سمیت انسانی حقوق کی مطلوبہ احتیاط پالیسی کے نفاذ کو مضبوط بنائیں گے ۔ ہم باوردی خواتین کی تعداد بڑھانے، ساز و سامان کے خلا کو پُر کرنے، اور ماحولیاتی استحکام اور احتساب کے معیارات طے کرنے کے لیے سپاہی اور پولیس بھیجنے والے ممالک کے ساتھ کام جاری رکھیں گے ۔ اور ہم امن اہلکاروں کی اس چھوٹی اقلیت کے احتساب کے لیے اپنی کوششیں بڑھائیں گے جو جنسی استحصال اور ناجائز فائدے حاصل کرنے سمیت غیر قانونی کام کرتی ہے ۔

مجھے یاد ہے جب میں نے اپنا عہدہ سنبھالا تو میں نے قیام امن کے لیے سپاہی بھیجنے والے ممالک کے سفیروں سے ملاقات کی تھی ۔ یہ حقیقت ہے کہ تین سال پہلے ایک مہم چل رہی تھی جو منفی تھی اور وہ بین الاقوامی میڈیا میں بہت نمایاں تھی ۔ مجھے فخر ہے کہ اس تاَثر کو پوری طرح بدلنا ممکن ہوا اور آج ہم میڈیا میں قیام امن کے حوالے سے جو کچھ دیکھتے ہیں وہ بالکل مختلف ہے اور ہم مزید مثبت امیج حاصل کرنے کے قابل ہیں ۔ میں ان تمام ممالک کا بہت زیادہ ممنون ہوں جنھوں نے بہتر تربیت، بہتر تربیت کاروں اور اپنی افواج کے بہتر احتساب کے لیے رہنما کردار ادا کیا ۔ اس سے دنیا بھر میں قیام امن کا امیج بہت زیادہ مضبوط ہوا ہے، اور پاکستان اس سلسلے میں ایک اچھی مثال ہے ۔ کارکردگی کے جائزے اور احتساب کو منظم بنانے کے لیے ہم اپنے سپاہی اور پولیس بھیجنے والے شراکت داروں کے ساتھ مل کر ایک عملی خاکہ بنانے کی منصوبہ بندی کررہے ہیں ۔

معزز حاضرین، عزیز طلبہ،

پاکستان کے عظیم بانی محمد علی جناح نے کہا تھا کہ ریاست کا عزم ’اندرونی امن اور بیرونی امن‘ ہونا چاہیے ۔ اقوام متحدہ قیام امن اسی اصول پر مبنی ہے ۔ ایک جگہ امن کا قیام ہر جگہ امن کے قیام میں مدد دیتا ہے ۔ میں آپ کی اہم شراکت داری کے لیے ایک بار پھر آپ کا شکریہ ادا کرتا ہوں ۔ اور میں آپ سے ان تمام معاملات پر بات کرنے کی توقع کرتا ہوں ۔ بہت شکریہ!

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Secretary-General thanked Pakistan for its support to the United Nations. The Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s commitment to support the country’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. They exchanged views on regional developments.

Islamabad, Pakistan, 17 February 2020

Readout for the Secretary-General’s meeting with H.E. Mr. Imran KHAN, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s support for the work of the United Nations, particularly in UN peace operations. The Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s commitment and generous policy towards refugees.

The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister also exchanged views on developments in Jammu and Kashmir. The Secretary-General informed the Prime Minister that he continues to follow the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with concern and appeals for maximum restraint and full respect for human rights. The Secretary-General reiterated his readiness to exercise his good offices if both sides agree.

Islamabad, 17 February 2020