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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood on Tuesday underscored the importance of adopting safe, affordable, and legal pathways to migration, and discouraging the illegal and irregular migration. The foreign secretary was speaking to a delegation from European countries, which met him here at the Foreign Office.

The delegation is on a study visit to Pakistan, organised by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), to assess the opportunities for support and cooperation in the realm of migration management, said a statement of the Foreign Office.

Appreciating the ICMPD’s work in Pakistan in the areas of awareness raising and capacity building, the foreign secretary underscored the importance of safe, affordable and legal pathways to migration. He added that such open channels would help in curbing irregular migration.

The foreign secretary also welcomed the engagement between the countries of origin and the countries of destination to better understand each other’s requirements and concerns. The foreign secretary noted Pakistan’s active participation as a responsible member of the “Budapest Process”, which is working towards controlling illegal migration and facilitating the integration of returnee migrants.

He interacted with the members of the delegation and exchanged views on the regional situation, especially with respect to the developments in Afghanistan.

He emphasized that the consolidation of peace and stability in Afghanistan, including by ensuring the averting of a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse, would go a long way in preventing a possible exodus of Afghans from their country.

The foreign secretary also highlighted Pakistan’s unwavering commitment and hospitality in hosting more than three million Afghan refugees for over 40 years.

He called for greater support from the international community to the refugee hosting countries in accordance with the principle of international burden and responsibility sharing.

The foreign secretary lauded the efforts of the ICMPD in organising the study visit, which provided a valuable opportunity for Pakistani stakeholders to interact with their European partners.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continue supporting ICMPD in the fulfilment of its mandate in line with national priorities.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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