Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Friday agreed to step up efforts to find solutions for Afghan refugees in Pakistan following June 30 when refugees’ Proof of Registration (PoR) cards expire.
In an “Extraordinary Consultations Meeting” hosted by Afghanistan in Kabul, Pakistan’s Minister of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch reiterated the country’s commitment to continue adhering to its traditional hospitality when formulating a new policy for Afghan refugees.
The meeting focused on issues related to the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Afghans and Pakistan’s proposed national policy on Afghan refugees, including extension of PoR cards and the Tripartite Agreement governing voluntary return of refugees.
The registration cards bore testimony to the official status of refugees.
All parties agreed that until the approval of a national policy for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the government of Pakistan would issue instructions to all provincial governments so that no adverse action is taken against Afghan refugees with PoR cards expiring on 30 June.
The minister expressed his support for the voluntary and gradual return of Afghans. He noted that, “Being a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan will continue to adhere to international norms in addressing the issues of refugees.”
A source privy to the meeting said that the period of extension was not mentioned, adding that UNHCR wanted a prolonged extension. “If the Pakistani government didn’t agree to UNCHR’s proposal, the provincial government will prepare a mechanism for the revival of refugees’ PoR cards.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2013.
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