The burden of extensions

There may still be Afghan refugees that are unregistered and undocumented in Pakistan

Editorial March 31, 2018

The federal government has given the sixth extension to the stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan since the start of repatriation process and the third during the current year. Putting the socio-economic factors such as additional expenditure on law and order aside, the extension has been granted at a time when reports of the increased involvement of Afghan refugees in terrorist activities in the country have surfaced even strongly and are counter to the plans, actions and operations the government here has taken to wriggle its way out of the conundrum of being called a state covertly supporting the militant groups.

Despite many Afghan nationals being registered under NADRA’S refugee registration drive launched in August 2017 providing them with identification documents like PoR and ACC, statistically, the process of repatriation has slowed down compared to 2016 when 40,000 Afghan nationals returned to their homeland. Whereas political factors emerging during the meetings of the top civil and military leadership of the two countries remain under wraps, the loopholes in the registration and documentation process and the tripartite agreement between the two governments and the UN that allows for periodic extension of refugees’ stay can be worked upon. As, factually, given the magnitude of the migrant influx post-2000, there may still be Afghan refugees that are unregistered and undocumented in Pakistan.

Moreover, it is unlikely that with the right to work and hold property in Pakistan, Afghans will be motivated to return to their own country which offers them less than what they have here. Hence, there needs to be strong push and pull factors on both sides for timely completion of the repatriation process.

Considering that during the previous meetings of the Federal Cabinet, ministers and the intelligence regarded the presence of undocumented Afghan nationals a security threat, it is hoped that the government will stay true to its words of not approving another extension beyond June 2018, at least not without addressing the questions previous approvals have originated.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2018.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read