Exile to Afghanistan: Repatriation of 19 families restrained

PHC seeks replies from federal, Chitral authorities before next hearing

Fawad Ali December 22, 2016
CBA CEO Shah assured the court that the green belt or trees would not be harmed. PHOTO: PPI

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) restrained the Chitral district administration on Thursday from sending 19 families to Afghanistan.

The district administration contended that the families were not Pakistani nationals. However, the claim was baseless, lawyer for the petitioners Mian Mohibullah Kakakhel said during the hearing.

“It can easily be proved that they are Pakistani nationals,” he said.

The division bench, headed by PHC Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, also served notices on the secretary of the federal interior ministry, the provincial chief secretary, home secretary and the deputy commissioner of Chitral, asking them to submit their replies before the next hearing.

As the hearing commenced on Thursday, the petitioners’ counsel argued that in 1951, the then ruler of the princely state of Chitral had exiled dozens of families. He argued that the families migrated to Afghanistan because the district straddled the Durand Line.

He argued that after the Soviet invasion on Afghanistan, the families moved back with Afghan refugees to Pakistan in December 1979 and remained at a refugee camp in Chitral.

Kakakhel stated that the petitioners applied for Pakistani domiciles and identity cards and on April 7, 2008 a senior civil judge decreed in the families’ favour.

“However, the district administration challenged this decree in the court of the district Qazi, where the Qazi set aside the ruling,” he argued.

After the dismissal of the application by the Qazi court, the families moved the PHC and filed an appeal to dismiss the district administration’s case and direct the federal government to resolve the issue.

When the petitioners filed their appeal in the Supreme Court after their petition was dismissed by the PHC, the apex court ruled that the appeal was not filed within the prescribed timeframe.

The lawyer argued that the district administration again issued notices to his clients, ordering them to go back to Afghanistan.

Citing a recent PHC judgment, Kakakhel argued that the high court had recently restored citizenship of 65 families of Chitral.

Highlighting the difficulties faced by the stranded families, he requested the court to ask the respondents to restore their citizenship and suspend the district government notice.

The PHC recently restored the citizenship of 65 families who had been exiled in 1951 by the then ruler of the Chitral state.

A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, directed the interior ministry to restore their citizenship and issue them computerised identity cards.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2016.

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