PESHAWAR: As a deadline looms for their stay in the country, Afghan refugees — who invested all their money into Pakistan while fleeing from Afghanistan — have demanded that the government set up a mechanism through which they can withdraw their money.
Addressing a news conference at the Peshawar Club on Monday, Afghan elders rejected the January 31 deadline set by the government for Afghan refugees to leave the country, demanding that they should be afforded more time to wrap up their businesses here.
Islamabad had on January 3 extended the deadline for Afghan refugees to stay in the country by another 30 days, setting January 31, 2018, as the new date for when Proof of Registration (PoR) cards will expire.
Afghan elder Malik Abdul Shinwari said that while they were mentally prepared to pack up their belongings and march across the Durand Line to their native lands in Afghanistan, there was a need to set up rules and system by which they can withdraw the money they had invested in setting up new lives in Pakistan.
“We are ready to return our homeland but who will give us a guarantee of returning our massive investments in Pakistan,” the refugee elder said, claiming that Afghans had invested over $4 billion in Pakistan after fleeing war in Afghanistan.
Shiwnari along with other elders further demanded that Islamabad must ensure their safe and respectable repatriation to their home country.
Acknowledging they had been treated with respect and dignity over the 40 years they spent in Pakistan, Shinwari advised that forceful repatriation at this stage would leave them disappointed with the government.
He said that apart from businesses, Afghans have invested millions in different sectors, including in immovable properties. Moreover, they have given loans to locals to operate businesses or are partners in businesses.
The limited deadline, he warned, could adversely impact the relationship between the people of the two countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2018.