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US diplomat Alice Wells calls on Minister SAFRON Shehryar Afridi

ISLAMABAD: Acting Assistant Secretary of United States of America (USA) for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells today called on Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and Narcotics Control, Shehryar Khan Afridi.

US Ambassador Paul Jones was also present on the occasion.

Matters relating to overall regional security situation, Afghan Peace Dialogue, Afghan refugee policy, refugees’ welfare, reparation plan came under discussion during the meeting.

The US delegation assured the minister of the continued contribution and support of the US government for the Afghan refugees with same spirit and commitment, said a press release.

Alice also appreciated and acknowledged Pakistan’s continued support and hospitality of millions of Afghan refugees over the past forty years. She said that the US government also acknowledges Pakistan’s support in hosting the protracted refugee population despite its financial constraints and limitations.

She hoped that the refugee reparation would be done in a peaceful and dignified manner, keeping in view the prevailing situation in Afghanistan.

Wells also discussed the prospects of issuance of visa and passports to different Afghan segments presently living in Pakistan and encouraged government of Pakistan to explore and avail the economic contribution of Afghan refugees towards Pakistani economy.

Shehryar Afridi, while appreciating the consistent support of USA both in diplomatic area as well as in financial terms, said that Afghan refugees were being provided with the best possible treatment during their temporary stay in Pakistan.

“The exemplary relations between the host communities and Afghan refugees could best be explained as no untoward incident has ever taken place during the past forty years of stay of refugees in Pakistan,” said the minister.

Afridi conveyed the concerns of government of Pakistan to the US government over dwindling international support and burden sharing of refugee hosting by the World community which further burdens Pakistan’s fragile economy.

“Due to the dwindling international support for refugees, the public services in education and health sectors are under stress. Thus, generous and predictable contribution would be required from both traditional and non-traditional donors. To meet the rising financial resources, combined and concerted effort needs to be initiated by all stakeholders through the UNHCR,” the minister observed.

Afridi also expressed concerns over the new global approach of combining humanitarian and development assistance for refugee population along with mainstreaming policy in education and health sectors.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.