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Afghan refugees in Pakistan seek end to bullying, harassment

PESHAWAR: Despite claims of improvement in relations between Kabul and Islamabad, harassment of Afghan refugees, living in southern districts and regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, at the hand of Pakistani authorities is continued unabated.

Showing serious concern over restrictions on Afghan refugees; moment, representatives of the refugees have urged the Pakistani authorities to put an end to such practice.

“Since previous December, Afghans are not allowed to travel through Kohat tunnel and Khushal Garh bridge, connecting Southern regions with rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the county,” elders of the Afghan community said during a press conference at Bannu Press Club the other day. The Afghan elders were included Haji Bacha Khan, Muhammad Nabi, Haji Malang Jan, Waseem Khan and others.

They said that a huge number of Afghans have been migrated to Pakistan 36 years back when Russia attacked their home country, adding that a big proportion of these Afghan refugees were now living in KP’s southern districts including Karak, Bannu, Kohat, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Lakki Marwat.

The elders added that the Afghan living in these districts have refugee cards, issued by the UNHCR, despite possessing these cards, Pakistani government has banned their travelling through Kohat tunnel and Khshal Garh bridge. The elders said that after the ban now the Afghan refugees living in southern region of the province were confronted with huge travelling problems.

One of the elders said that they have relatives in different parts of the country, so some time they need to go to attend different ceremonies but the recent restriction limited them to their homes. They added that sometime they take patients to different hospitals in Peshawar or other areas, where Kohat Tunnel is the appropriate route.

They appreciated the hospitality of Pakistan and its people during last three and a half decades and said that they always respected the constitution, culture, norms and values of the country. They added that they had submitted written complaints to UNHCR, Islamabad, Pakistan, Afghan consulate, KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PTI Chairman Imran Khan regarding the issue and now they demanded them to look into their issue.

They asked authorities to resume the independent status of the Afghan citizens having legal documents. They also threatened of self-immolation on the occasion.

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