UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon arrives in Pakistan for first official visit


Islamabad : UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived Wednesday in Islamabad for his first State visit to Pakistan, holding talks with senior officials and meeting with United Nations personnel in the South Asian nation.

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Shortly after he arrived, Mr. Ban met briefly with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, and the two men discussed the importance of maintaining and bolstering the rapprochement between India and Pakistan.

The Secretary-General, who later conferred with President Asif Ali Zardari, also witnessed the signing between the UN Country Team and the Pakistani Government of the “One Programme Document,” which develops a framework for the world body’s development work in the country.

Speaking to reporters, he stressed the UN’s support for the efforts made by Pakistan to tackle the threat of terrorism with economic and financial restraints.

On the December 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Mr. Ban said that following extensive consultations with both the Government and members of the Security Council, he plans to set up an independent Commission of Inquiry shortly.

The Secretary-General arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he made a surprise visit to pledge the UN’s strong support for development and the consolidation of peace and stability in the strife-torn nation.

While in the country, he had a meeting with President Hamid Karzai and was briefed on the humanitarian situation by his top envoy and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Kai Eide.

On Monday, Mr. Ban condemned “in the strongest terms” the murder of a UN worker in western Pakistan, calling for the immediate release of another staff member apparently abducted in the same attack.

Unidentified gunmen attacked the vehicle used by Syed Hashim and John Solecki, who both worked for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as they drove to the agency’s office in the city of Quetta.

Mr. Hashim, who was driving the vehicle and had worked for UNHCR for some 18 years, was shot and later died after being rushed to hospital, while Mr. Solecki, who has headed the agency’s sub-office in Quetta for two years, was apparently snatched from the car.