APC to frame policy on Afghan refugees

Islamabad – The federal government is going to hold an All Parties Conference (APC) on September 21 to firm up recommendations for a national policy on the Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

Ministry of State and Frontier Regions (Safron) will host the daylong conference to which all the political parties have been invited, sources in the ministry said.

The new policy, they said, would help promote effective coordination among the federation and provinces to ensure no registered refugee is subjected to any highhandedness.

It would also help in effective coordination between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UNHCR – which has been assisting the country for years in hosting and repatriating the Afghan refugees.

The federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sahrif last week granted six months extension in the stay of Afghan refugees, ostensibly to ensure dignified return of those refugees who desire to return to their country voluntarily.

The prime minister during his visit to the US this month to participate in the UNGA would also inform the world community about the state of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, their dignified return and settlement in Afghanistan.

Sources said that the PM would try to convince the international community to come forward and help in the post repatriation and settlement and reintegration of the Afghans.

More than 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees are currently living in Pakistan while an equal number of unregistered Afghans are also living in the country.

A senior SAFRON official, on condition of anonymity, told The Nation that under new policy federal and provincial governments would target undocumented or illegal Afghans living in Pakistan.

According to government sources nearly 100,000 families of registered Afghan refugees had returned to Afghanistan but many of them have come back to Pakistan because of lack of proper facilities in their homeland.

KP and Balochistan governments have been tracking down the Afghans living illegally in Pakistan and many have been sent to jails or deported which evoked a sharp reaction from Afghanistan government as well as the some pro-Afghan politicians in Pakistan. This has forced the federal government to seek formulation of a national policy on the refugees.

Afghan government has been requesting Pakistan to treat the Afghans softly, which led to the Pakistan government to make a distinction between the registered and unregistered Afghans.

Pakistan government is also seeking cooperation from the Afghan government to evolve a joint mechanism for an effective border management of the Pak-Afghan border so that terrorists are stopped from cross border movements.


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