PM approves Afghan refugees’ stay in Pakistan for six more months | Pakistan Today

PM approves Afghan refugees’ stay in Pakistan for six more months

  • Federal govt bars provincial govts from harassing and arresting Afghan refugees; govt to provide wheat for returning Afghan refugees for three years
  • KP govt opposes extension in Afghan refugees’ stay

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday approved an extension in the stay of Afghan refugee in the country for six months, a day before the previously announced deadline expired. The federal government, meanwhile, has barred the provincial governments from harassing and arresting Afghan refugees until a new policy is launched.

A notification in this regard has been issued.

Sources said that the federal government has taken notice of harassment and arrests of Afghan refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The KP government, however, has opposed extending the Afghan refugees stay in the country.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of States & Frontier Regions shall immediately engage with UNHCR and Government of Afghanistan for gradual relocation of refugee camps in Pakistan to Afghanistan,” spokesperson for the prime minister said.

The PM’s spokesperson further said that in order to facilitate relocation and as a gesture of continued goodwill, Pakistan will commit to provision of free of cost wheat for the relocated camps in Afghanistan for a period of three years.

“The quantity of wheat will be determined by a certified number of refugees returning from camps in Pakistan and authorised daily entitlement according to the standards of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO),” the spokesman said.

Pakistan has the world’s second largest refugee population, with more than 1.5 million registered, and about a million unregistered refugees from Afghanistan, most of whom fled the Soviet occupation of their country in the 1980s.

It should be noted that this extension in stay is given only to those Afghans who are ‘Proof of Registration’ card holders and legally reside in Pakistan.

The number of Afghans voluntarily returning home has plunged this year as violence has worsened in Afghanistan, where the government and its US allies are fighting a stubborn Taliban insurgency.

‘CAN’T REPATRIAE REFUGEES ON OUR OWN’:

“The prime minister has approved another six-month extension in the deadline,” Imran Zeb Khan, the chief commissioner for Afghan Refugees said in an interview.

“But Pakistan can’t ensure that these refugees will return. That cannot happen without support from Afghanistan and the international community which need to create the right conditions for their repatriation.”

Khan said Pakistan will hold a tripartite meeting with Afghanistan and the United Nations refugee agency on July 19 to plan the way forward.

The comments came soon after officials revealed at least 500 Afghan refugees were arrested from a northwestern border province and deported as a security risk.

Pakistani media reported that more than 2,000 refugees were arrested in the last month, and 400 deported to Afghanistan.

There are only 100,000 registered refugees in the KP province, the site of the arrests, said provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.

“We don’t suggest any aggressive campaign against Afghan refugees, but we have been hosting them for the last 35 years and it is time they go back to their country,” Ghani said.

Unregistered Afghans has become a major security issue for the government, he said. About 6,000 Afghans have chosen to return home from Pakistan in 2016, well below last year’s figure of 58,211, the United Nations’ refugee agency has said.

Registration cards allowing a temporary legal stay for Afghan refugees last received a six-month extension after they expired in December 2015.

Many Afghans have lived in Pakistan for decades and contribute significantly to its labour force.

But Afghan refugee camps have become “safe havens for terrorists”, Pakistani foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz told a Pakistani television channel last week.

Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch also warned that Pakistan was not willing to host Afghan refugees indefinitely.

Visiting Pakistan last week, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he had made the case to the government for extending the June 30 deadline.

Registration cards allowing a temporary legal stay for Afghan refugees last received a six-month extension after they expired in December 2015.



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6 Comments

  1. Shan said:

    Why??? Afghans are nothing but trouble committing atrocities in Pakistan and harbouring terrorists. They should all be deported immediately.

  2. Ajaz Haque said:

    Why indeed? All Afghan refugees should be sent back within six months. Afghanistan is no more under occupation, so there is no reason to keep the refugees in Pakistan. Our greedy Governments get money from UN for keeping refugees and they don't care what damage is being done to the country. Time to to close this chapter for good.

  3. Ali Akber said:

    Afgan should go back.
    We Dis agree with federal government decision of extending 6 month stay in Pakistan.

  4. Aamir Ali said:

    Moistsix-month extension after they expired in December 2015??? (Mistake in article, please set it down.

  5. Shahid Hameed said:

    Stay of Afghan refugees, long time in Pakistan is conspiracy and attempt to create situation to award Pakistani nationality to Afghans refugees.
    Long stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan is international conspiracy against Pakistan. Afghanistan’s and others old Dream to reach warm waters is basic theory behind this conspiracy. Pakistani politicians can award Pakistani nationality to Afghan refugees for the increased of their vote bank. Afghan refugees has been settled in Pakistan and illegally awarded them Pakistani nationality with the connivance help of some corrupt Pakistani Politicians and bureaucracy. United Nation is also responsible for the long stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Now Afghan population has been settled in Pakistan in very sensitive and strategic places and cities of the country. Afghan refugees has established their population Towns in cantonment, around Airports, Sea Ports and other sensitive areas. Some cities and areas in Pakistan called Mini Afghanistan especially rapidly growth of Afghan population in Baluchistan is real Alert and threats to Gwadar port and economic corridor project.
    Illegal CNICs holders and without legal documents, huge Afghan population alongside of historic GT Road is also a threats to Pakistan’s Defence Because Afghan population in Pakistan has been involved in terrorism, spying for enemy and involved in serious crimes against Pakistani citizens. Pak China Economic corridor project through KPK and Baluchistan should be kept clean from illegal CNICs holder Afghan population.
    This is need of the hour that illegal CNICs holder Afghan population should be ousted from sensitive areas and should be kept in their refugee’s camp.

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