PR No.220 Islamabad

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi warned the international community at the UN that denial of asylum to Muslim refugees by some countries was legally, politically and morally untenable. “The moral compass of those who refuse refugees of any faith must be questioned”, she said, says a press release received here today from New York

Speaking in a debate at the UN General Assembly on the global refugee crises, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative said that fear was being fanned by some to accentuate discrimination, blunt humanitarianism, and spread hate and Islamophobia.

Ambassador Lodhi described the refugee crisis “as one of the defining humanitarian and political issues of our times.” She said how this is addressed will influence political and social trends for decades to come – either bridging or dividing cultures and civilizations.

She said it was time to acknowledge that the interlocking crises and conflicts raging across the Middle East and Africa have been precipitated by “misguided military interventions in the internal affairs of several regional states.”

And, she stressed that “history and current events attest that foreign intervention begets more chaos and violence, breaking down established structures of stability, destroying states and displacing people.

Pakistan’s envoy urged addressing the root causes of the flow of refugees today to Europe. Conditions, she said, will have to be created to enable the refugees to return to their homes in dignity and peace”.

She also called for political solutions to be promoted to halt the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Compromises, she added, may be difficult but they are essential.

Ambassador Lodhi said that “fixed preconditions for peace and negotiations are a recipe for continuing conflict and chaos. The rights of majorities and minorities will have to be respected.

Nor can the political hegemony of any power or combination of powers form the basis for durable peace in the region.”

Highlighting the need to urgently resolve the refugee crises, Ambassador Lodhi expressed the hope that the UN debate would yield recommendations for a clear, resolute and unified response to this crisis – “a response that is timely, coherent and comprehensive, and, above all, based on the principles of humanitarianism, human rights and national and global responsibility”.

Calling for refugees to be treated with compassion, Ambassador Lodhi said that it was essential that the flow of humanity to European shores must be met with humanity. And she added compassion has no religion.

Ambassador Lodhi criticized those countries, which were fixing ceilings on accepting people who were in need of urgent protection, calling this “unacceptable, legally and morally”. Every refugee and asylum seeker, she said, was entitled to protection and humane treatment.

“There is no room for discrimination on the basis of caste, colour or creed, or any other consideration in international law”, she added.

She underscored the need for massive and urgent assistance to care for the millions of refugees who were crowded in neighboring countries – in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere to stem the tide of the refugees to Europe.

Referring to the three million (registered and unregistered) Afghan refugees who still lived in Pakistan, she said that unfortunately, international assistance to these refugees and the response to UN appeals for resources to sustain them has been partial and ungenerous.

She concluded by appealing to the world community to “join our strengths and combine our energies” to overcome this humanitarian catastrophe. She said, “When history judges us collectively, let us make sure that we do not fail for lack of humanity”.