Afghan refugees’ stay extended by one year

Cabinet approves action plan for Pak PWD’s abolition

Our Correspondent July 11, 2024


The federal cabinet on Wednesday granted a one-year extension till June 30, 2025, in the expiry period of PoR (Proof of Registration) cards of 1.45 million Afghan refugees legally staying in Pakistan.

The cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also decided to hand over the federal government projects in the provinces to the relevant provincial departments.

The last caretaker government had announced the repatriation of all illegal foreigners citing security concerns in October last year. The decision was alleged to be meant for Afghan refugees, a charge that was denied by officials.

Repatriation of undocumented Afghans began on November 1 and officials now say that up to 500,000 have gone back to their home country.

Officials had earlier stated there were nearly 1.7m illegal Afghans with most having lived in Pakistan for 40 years.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said: “The federal cabinet approved one-year extension of the validity of PoR (Proof of Registration) cards of 1.45 million Afghan refugees. Their PoR cards have expired on June 30, 2024. The extension has been granted until June 30, 2025”.

According to the UN refugee agency, Pakistan is still home to around 1.3 million registered Afghans. The PoR is a critical identity document held by registered Afghan refugees.

Besides registered, more than 800,000 have Afghan citizenship cards, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The federal cabinet also approved the action plan for the abolition of Pakistan Public Works Department (Pak PWD) and decided the formation of a Pakistan Infrastructure Development Company to oversee federal development projects and Asset And Facility Management Company for repair and maintenance works.

Similarly, the Asset and Facility Management Company would be established to carry out the repair and maintenance work currently being done by the Pak PWD. After their classification, the PWD employees would be transferred to relevant ministries and a golden handshake scheme would also be introduced for them.

Moreover, the cabinet also decided to computerise the record of all PWD properties and called for completing the transition process within two weeks.

The federal cabinet was also briefed about the performance of the committee formed to reduce the government’s volume. It was told that the committee would complete the information gathering about the unnecessary departments of the ministries of IT, Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan, States and Frontier Regions, Industries and Production, and National Health Services by July 12 and present proposals before the cabinet by first week of August, after consultation with the relevant ministries.

Moreover, it was told that after July 19, similar information would also be sought from other ministries and recommendations would be tabled regarding the closure or merger of their departments.

On the housing ministry’s recommendation, the meeting also approved transfer of the Federal Lodges-II in Peshawar to the Election Commission of Pakistan for establishing the permanent office of the provincial election commission.

The meeting approved the repatriation of seven accountant members of Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue to FBR and appointment of 14 officers in the tribunal benches, as proposed by the ministry.


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