UN is building relationship to promote Development Goals in Pakistan
Resident Coordinator of United Nations Pakistan
Report by M.Saeed Yousafzai
While Pakistan is exploring and expediting various avenues of development growth, it has been receiving consistent support from United Nations.
Neil Buhne took up his position in Pakistan in September 2015. As UN Resident Coordinator, his responsibility is to coordinate and lead the UN team’s work in Pakistan. As Humanitarian Coordinator he leads the work of the humanitarian community working to meet needs in Pakistan in support of national efforts. As UNDP Resident Representative, he has overall responsibility for the work of UNDP, working with the UNDP Country Director and UNDP staff. As Designated Official he has responsibility of behalf of the Secretary-General for the Safety and Security of UN Staff in Pakistan.
Before coming to Pakistan he served in Geneva as the Director of the UNDP Geneva office in 2014 and 2015, and from 2011 to 2013 as Director of the Geneva office of UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR).
He has served with the United Nations as Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in three countries for 12 years, since joining the United Nations 30 years ago. He holds an M.A. from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University Ottawa, Canada.
On question about his visit to various urban and rural areas of Pakistan, UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne shared that he has observed a strong sense of cultural prevalence in Pakistan. He expressed gratitude towards the welcoming nature of people, hospitality and respect he experienced in his visits across the Pakistan.
United Nation has a reasonable presence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) as it has a range of rehabilitation packages and programs for the locals. UN is trying to provide food; basic health and shelter opportunities to people so they can come up and be a part of the general socio-economic environment.
FATA, where the huge influx of internally displaced people of Pakistan are residing; has many United Nations interventions going on. Additionally, recently, under ‘’Pakistan Humanitarian Pool Fund’’, the United Nations has rebuilt many schools, health care centres in the dispute hit north-western areas of the country.
Despite many other issues, Pakistan is facing a long-drawn problem of hosting Afghan refugees as well as the recent phenomenon of holding Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDP’s) at various places is of deep concerns for the government. United Nations Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne shared that Pakistan is hosting the highest number of refugee population in the world and tried to facilitate presence of refugees while they stayed in Pakistan or at the present repatriation. United Nations is also facilitating the dignified repatriation of the Afghan refugees. Furthermore, it was shared that the incumbent government is working on a policy to lay down series of workable steps to ensure safe and dignified repatriation. Various UN agencies are assisting Pakistan government for safe repatriation of Afghan refugees.
Running through the discussion, it was highlighted that UN is supporting and promoting the KP government’s educational and health reforms in the province. Moreover, consistent advocacy is exercised to resolve the environmental issues in collaboration with the provincial government. There is also support to the government in strengthening rule of Law institutions. UN is striving to bring equal access and education opportunities for the native people to bring peace, prosperity and further growth in the area.
Furthermore, UN Representative expressed his appreciation towards the increasingly progressive attitude in FATA during past two years. He quoted the example of his visit to one of the community in Miranshah in 2017, where he saw Primary girls’ schools being operational and encouraging number of girls present in class rooms.
When asked about the basic challenges, Mr. Neil shared that like every developing country; in Pakistan, access to better education and basic health facilities is comparatively difficult and United Nations; under its Sustainable Development Goals 2030, will work extensively to improve the situation. There are good examples of education reforms in Punjab to build on.
Mr. Buhne applauded the youth of Pakistan for the talent and progressive attitude they possess. Furthermore, he shared that recently a Pakistani youth won the global competition of innovation and technology, which was an initiative by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
During the discussion, he highlighted that although poverty is one of the major challenges in Pakistan, however strong family ties and community resilience helps individuals to strive for better livelihood.
UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan Neil Buhne has also pointed out the fact that Pakistan is one of the vulnerable country in the world regarding its environmental issues. Hence, the country must adopt the climate change policy as soon as possible to avoid environmental hazard. Similarly, the water management system in the country is facing problems. No doubt, there are enough water resources in the country even for its agricultural needs but due to lack of basic water management, even privileged areas of the country are water dependent. Irony is, Pakistan has remained food surplus country but this has not translated into adequak needs for all.
In his message to Pakistan, Neil Buhne was very optimistic and hopeful for Pakistan’s progressive future. Moreover, he reiterated that a resilient and confident nation can help themselves to support this country for its betterment. In this regard, Pakistan must keep on pushing innovation and opportunities in terms of educating people and jobs so that it would be a prosperous country in coming years.
Pakistan is facing a long-drawn problem of hosting Afghan refugees: Neil Buhne
Pakistan is one of the vulnerable country in the world regarding its environmental issues: Neil Buhne
Under ‘’Pakistan Humanitarian Pool Fund’’, the United Nations has rebuilt many schools, health care centres in the dispute hit north-western areas of the country….. country must adopt the climate change policy as soon as possible: Neil Buhne
The Writer is a freelance Islamabad based Journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org