ISLAMABAD: A constitutional petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against the November 15 deadline for repatriation of Afghan refugees and allowing them instead to live in Pakistan until December 2017.
Lawyer Zulfiqar Ahmad Bhutta filed the petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution. The petition has named as respondents the cabinet and interior secretaries, K-P chief secretary, inspectors general of police in Punjab and K-P, FIA’s director general as well as the commissioner for Afghan refugees in the province.
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Bhutta pointed out that the federal government had decided to repatriate Afghan refugees to their country by November 15, because of “satisfactory circumstances in Afghanistan”.
Referring to media reports, the petitioner claimed that Afghan refugees are facing harassment at the hands of both Punjab and K-P police. Such actions are contrary to domestic and international laws and conventions, he added.
Thousands of Afghan refugees are now being forced out of Pakistan – the same country that had earlier allowed them to open businesses and build their own homes.
The applicant alleged that some influential officials were trying to reap undue benefits by buying off properties owned by refugees after harassing them.
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In view of these circumstances, he urged the SC to order the government to extend the stay of all refugees till December 2017 and prevent Punjab and K-P police from harassing them.
He also requested the SC to extend the stay of those Afghan refugees who had set up businesses in the country and whose investment was valued at Rs20 million.
The petitioner also requested the court to allow refugees who owned immovable properties worth Rs10 million to live in Pakistan for two more years.
“A direction may also be given to federal and provincial governments to impose a ban upon officials of police, law enforcement agencies and judiciary not to (forcibly) purchase properties owned by Afghan refugees.”
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He also pleaded that the FIA should be instructed to compile a list of those government officials, who had already purchased such properties after January 1 this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2016.