Time to go home: Fresh crackdown to target unregistered Afghan refugees

Kabul authorities are visiting Pakistan on March 11 to discuss repatriation process


Zahid Gishkori March 02, 2015
Kabul authorities are visiting Pakistan on March 11 to discuss repatriation process. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD:


Since non-documented Afghan refugees are considered ‘a serious threat’ to the national security particularly after the December 16 brutal attack on APS in Peshawar, the government in Islamabad has kicked off a fresh crackdown against the illegal expatriates.


While considering them a serious security risk under its new policy being swiftly executed under the National Action Plan (NAP), the government has started a fresh crackdown against hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees who otherwise failed to produce legal documents, well-informed officials said on Sunday. “We consider unregistered Afghan refugees a security threat, that is why law enforcement agencies have been directed to push them back home,” a senior official of the Ministry of Interior said.



A tripartite meeting will also decide about the fate of some 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees after senior officials of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UNHCR are set to meet in Geneva on March 16, he revealed.

Law enforcement agencies, the senior official said, have pushed an estimated 47,000 Afghans who were staying illegally since we started executing the National Action Plan eight weeks ago, he added.

Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already decided in principle to repatriate all Afghan refugees by December 31, 2015. “We will not extend their stay. They will have to return at all costs,” he told The Express Tribune. To comply with orders relating to the execution of the NAP, provincial authorities, with cooperation of federal government, are bound to clear all unregistered Afghans, the federal minister explained.

Secretary SAFRON Pir Bakhsh Jamali revealed that Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Said Hussain Alimi Balkhi will be visiting Pakistan on March 11 to discuss issues linked to repatriation of Afghan refugees.

The 11-member delegation will meet senior Cabinet members and representatives of UNHCR in Islamabad, he said. “We expect Afghan authorities will welcome their citizens now,” Jamali hoped.

SAFRON ministry officials, who were assigned to register all non-documented Afghans, said they have yet to execute this key assignment as finance division did not release Rs680 million for this purpose. How will we meet our deadline [June 2015] to register more than one million unregistered Afghans when we have no funds either from the Ministry of Finance or the UNHCR,” he questioned.

International community must understand Pakistan’s concerns and assist it to repatriate millions of Afghans, now considered a serious threat to its national security, said Dr Nasreen Ghufran, who teaches International Relations at University of Peshawar.

“To repatriate millions of [Afghan] refugees in one go will, of course, create a humanitarian crisis,” observed Dr Ghufran.  A strong will and productive plan may engage Islamabad, Kabul and international organisations to send refugees back in different stages, she suggested.


Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2015.

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COMMENTS (1)

A J Khan | 6 years ago | Reply UNHCR is biggest stumble block in repatriation of Afghan Refugees. Refugees mean money. perks, privileges to these international agencies. UNHCR has let them loose on the people of Pakistan to live off the land. Refugees who are fair to themselves and to Pakistan need to be repatriated so that they can start their lives on permanent basis in their own country.
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