ISLAMABAD: Members of parliament and the United Nation Human Rights Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have denied media reports of 1.7 million Afghan refugees being expelled from Pakistan by the end of this year.
Talking to Voice of America (VOA), spokesperson for UNHCR Aslam Khan, while terming the reports as baseless, said that Pakistan had no intention to oust Afghan refugees living in Pakistan by the end of 2012.
He said that Pakistan was bound to fulfill its obligation, adding that Afghan refugees possessing registration cards would not be displaced by force until they were ready to go back to Afghanistan voluntarily.
He said the war-torn country of Afghanistan was not in a position to take the burden of 1.7 million Afghan refugees at this stage.
Federal Minister for States and Frontier Region Engineer Shaukatullah also said that all registered and non-registered Afghan refugees willing to go back to their homes voluntarily, would be repatriated by the end of this year.
"All registered Afghan refugees who are voluntarily desirous will be allowed to go back to their homes in Afghanistan," he said.
ANP Senator Afrasiyab Khan Khattak has said that Afghan refugees are a burden on Pakistan in view of the present economic situation, but he will not support their forced expulsion from the country as they are living in Pakistan due to certain compulsions.
He warned that forced expulsion of Afghan refugees may affect bilateral relations between the two countries, adding that both governments should evolve a joint strategy for the return of Afghan refugees so that it may be sustainable.
Spokesperson UNHCR in Pakistan Dunya Aslam Khan, sharing her views, said the return of Afghan refugees should be voluntary, but added that illegal immigrants may be expelled.
She said that UNHCR had contacted government officials to verify media reports, adding that Pakistan had made a commitment to the UNHCR country director that no recognized Afghan refugee would be deported from Pakistan.
According to Pakistani officials, about one million Afghans are living in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) without valid documents.
At least one million non-registered Afghan refugees presently living in Pakistan are reportedly being sent back by force, hence, the UNCHR official said that non-registered Afghan refugees should register themselves.
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