Govt redoubles efforts to remove Afghan prayer leaders from K-P

Published: February 27, 2015
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According to official data, there are 185 Afghan prayer leaders in Peshawar, 49 in Charsada, 46 in Mardan and 13 in Swabi. PHOTO: INP

According to official data, there are 185 Afghan prayer leaders in Peshawar, 49 in Charsada, 46 in Mardan and 13 in Swabi. PHOTO: INP

PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has compiled a list of at least 366 Afghan nationals who occupy offices of Imams at Mosques and seminaries throughout the province, and has asked those who do not have any documentary proof validating their stay in Pakistan to leave.

Prayers leaders who lack Proof of Registration (POR) and other documents validating their stay in Pakistan have been directed to go back to Afghanistan or else face action. Though a large number of Afghan students enrolled in seminaries in the province have already left for Afghanistan, scores of prayer leaders still occupy offices in mosques and seminaries.

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According to official data, there are 185 Afghan prayer leaders in Peshawar, followed by Charsada with 49, Mardan with 46 and Swabi with 13.

The official data reveal that 20 of these Afghan Ulema have acquired Pakistani National Identity cards. An official confirmed their Afghan origin and suggested that formal action against them may be taken for using fraudulent practices to get National Identity Cards.

Read: Stop ‘scapegoating’ Afghan refugees for Taliban atrocities in Peshawar: HRW urges govt

Security agencies have confirmed that 47 of the 366 Afghan prayer leaders have Proof of Registration, issued in their favour by UNHCR. The government has already declared December 31, 2015, as the deadline for all Afghan nationals possessing POR and other documents to leave the country.

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According to official data, there is no Afghan religious scholar in the following K-P districts: Swat, Buner, Chitral, Torghar, Haripur, Kohistan, Battagram, Shangla, Karak, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank.

Read: National Geographic’s ‘Afghan Girl’ issued Pakistani identity card

However, officials from Home and Tribal Affairs Department claim that after the deadly Peshawar School attack, Afghan prayer leaders have left most of the southern districts for their home country.

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