Pakistan not to expel Afghan refugees, says minister

Published: February 26, 2018
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Nearly one million unregistered Afghan refugees documentation are also currently underway across the country. PHOTO: INP

Nearly one million unregistered Afghan refugees documentation are also currently underway across the country. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD  : Pakistan will not force some 2 million Afghan refugees in the country to leave but encourages voluntary repatriation, a Pakistani cabinet minister said Monday, as the legal stay of around 1.4 million registered refugees in Pakistan will end on March 31.

Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch told members of the Pak-Afghan Track II Dialogue in Islamabad that Pakistan is treating refugees issue purely on humanitarian grounds, separating it from the security or political domain.

Pakistan also hosts nearly 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees in the country, whose documentation is currently underway across the country.

On January 31, the Pakistani cabinet extended the stay of the registered Afghan refugees in the country for 60 days.

US pledges to continue humanitarian aid to Pakistan for housing Afghan refugees

“The refugees have nothing to do with security situation. Also there is no serious law and order issue or conflict witnessed between the local communities in Pakistan and Afghan refugees,” the minister said as Pakistani leaders routinely cite the longer stay of refugees as one of the security issues.

The minister said Pakistan is working in close coordination with the UN refugee agency and the Afghan Embassy to deal with the refugees’ dignified return.

Afghan delegates at the track II initiative “Beyond Boundaries” earlier said the Afghan government will not be able to accommodate millions of refugees if they are forced to leave Pakistan.

“We also dealt with it as our international responsibility. The educational and health facilities in Pakistan were available to the Afghan refugees. I am glad to find out that 50,000 people educated in Pakistan are serving in Afghanistan presently,” he said.

For many Afghan refugees ‘home’ is an unfamiliar land

The UNHCR representative Ruven Menikdiwela told the participants that the refugee agency is “encouraging voluntary return of Afghan refugees and support Pakistan’s idea that those who want to stay in Pakistan should get Afghan passports first and then stay there (in Pakistan) with a valid visa.”

“Pakistan has been providing access to schools and hospitals which is an in-kind contribution,” she said, adding that “we cannot vouch for every individual refugee. We say if there are bad guys, deal with them according to law but don’t bracket every one with terrorists.”

“We would request the Pakistani government to give all stakeholders sufficient time ahead to prepare for implementation of repatriation plans. The Afghan government should prioritize building capacity of authorities in Kabul for issuing passports if it is ready to launch its resettlement program for the returning refugees,” said the UN refugee agency representative.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Humza
    Feb 26, 2018 - 11:50PM

    What is wrong with the government? It’s time to send the refugees back so they can live and work in their own country of Afghanistan. It is not Pakistan’s job to house these people forever. They have been in Pakistan for decades and a lot of the problems with crime and terrorism are due to them. If the European countries and Americans don’t want them back, let them accept them as refugees in their country. Pakistan has suffered enough from them and the pennies it got for keeping them doesn’t begin to make up for the colossal losses caused by them. Pakistan has to focus on its own people and giving its own people opportunity and a decent life. We are finally ending load shedding and improving infrastructure but agents among the refugees take orders from India and they work to destabilize the country.Recommend

  • Ali Anwar
    Feb 27, 2018 - 5:14AM

    All of them should be given a chance to become Pakistani citizens. After becoming nationals crime can be managed better. This is only possible if our governments are sincere in working for the people of Pakistan. Also Pakistan was created based on refugees. We are welcoming nation. Pakistan population is one of its biggest resource we must invest in skills building. Recommend

  • Afzaal khan
    Feb 27, 2018 - 6:16AM

    Indeed we must assist them to return to Afghanistan .
    As has been mentioned repetitively refugees have turned to crime for sustainability and quite a few are in the hands of a foreign country as agents of destruction .
    Historically Afghanis are noted for betrayals and we have learned our lessons. fighting a foreign country’s war and in process destroyed almost all of our western region,and economy. Recommend

  • Aavinaash
    Feb 27, 2018 - 8:29AM

    @Humza….not so easy mate, as soon as you start forcefully sending the Afghan’s, the international community will start sending the millions of Pakistani refugees from all over the world. Perhaps even the Pakistani Government understands that an Afghan refugee is better than a useless Pakistani citizen.Recommend

  • Anjum
    Feb 27, 2018 - 8:47AM

    More they stay, more will be the problems. Recommend

  • Sami Baloch
    Feb 27, 2018 - 3:03PM

    @Humza:
    Very well saidRecommend

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