AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Since the government of Pakistan has decided to repatriate Afghan refugees, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government the other day announced that they would convene a meeting of parliamentary leaders and Pakistani government officials to prepare a strategy to handle the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees in a better manner.
According to Daily Times, a Pakistani newspaper, the decision was announced by Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser after a detailed debate on the issue during the assembly’s Friday session. Per details, the parliamentary leaders, chief minister, chief secretary, provincial police chief and a retired civil servant and former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand will be invited to the meeting.
The speaker, in his ruling, observed that the matter was related to bilateral relations between the two neighboring countries, so it should be looked into seriously in order to design a long-term policy for the repatriation of Afghan refugees, the source said.
“Afghan had migrated to Pakistani under compulsion and “we had given them refuge on humanitarian grounds,” Minister for Public Health Engineering (PHE) Shah Farman said, adding that the provincial government would not throw them out of the country, and urged international donor agencies to take steps for guaranteeing their complete rehabilitation.
Moreover, and earlier, members from both treasury and opposition benches, including Opposition Leader Maulana Lutfur Rehman, spoke on the issue.
He called for repatriation of Afghan refugees in an honorable and dignified manner
“Adopting a clear policy on the matter, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had a natural bond with Afghanistan and that the history of this relationship should also be studied thoroughly for formulation of a positive and better policy, Daily Times quoted Rehman, as saying.
Recalling the Afghan refugees were living in Pakistan under an international agreement, Sardar Hussain Babak, the parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), demanded the repatriation of Afghan refugees in a dignified manner.
During the session, Deputy Speaker Dr Meher Taj Roghani also observed that refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the province comprised a huge population of children and women and they should be given good treatment.
Those refugees possessing proof of registration (PoR) cards should not be harassed, Sultan Mohammad Khan of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) said.
“Those Afghan refugees who had purchased properties and their children were studying (in Pakistan) should not be repatriated in a disgraceful manner.”
On his turn, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees was related to both the province and whole country, therefore the nation should be united on it.
Senior Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD) Inayatullah, Azizul Mulk Afkari of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Fakhar-e-Azam Wazir of the PPP and Qurban Ali Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also participated in the debate.
Recently the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that the number of Afghan refugees voluntarily returning home has surpassed 500 families daily—a marked increase on the 10 families a day a few months ago.
The surge in refugee repatriations comes only a few weeks after the Pakistani government set a new deadline of six months for Afghan refugees in Pakistani to leave.
“In the past only ten families were repatriating voluntarily a day, but now more than five hundred families come here. We want to increase the capacity of registration centers aimed rising repatriations, an UNHCR official in Peshawar said.
At the same time, Afghan refugees in Pakistani have said that they “willing to come back to their country”.