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Afghan refugees: Pakistan’s apex court asked to delay repatriation

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: A renowned Pakistani lawyer, Zulfiqar Ahmad Bhutta, has filed a constitutional petition in Supreme Court of Pakistan against the Number 15 deadline for repatriation of the Afghan refugees.

In the petition filed under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, Bhutta requested the apex court of the country to allow the refugees to stay in Pakistan till December 2017.

Advocate Bhutta has pleaded before the Supreme Court to stop police authorities, law enforcement agencies and even the judiciary members from buying houses and shops of the refugees at throwaway prices. He asked the apex court to order the Afghan refugees commissioner in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province to maintain a complete record of those officials who have bought the properties sold by Afghan refugees after January 1.

“The petition has named the cabinet and foreign affairs secretaries, chief secretary of KP, the inspectors general of KP and Punjab police as well as the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency and the Afghan refugees commissioner in KP as respondents,” Dawn reported.

Advocate Bhutta urged the government to extend the repatriation date for another five years for those Afghan refugees who have invested not less than Rs20 million. He suggested the apex court should direct relevant governmental organizations to allow those Afghan refugees who have immovable properties worth Rs10 million to extend their stay in the country by another two years.

He said that through different sources he came to know that officials at concerned government departments were misusing state machinery “to get undue advantage of this situation”.

“This state of affairs, the petition fears, will further inculcate a sense of hatred among refugees towards Pakistan, the country which sacrificed hugely for hosting millions of Afghans over the past 30 years,” Dawn reported.

According to the petition, the matter involves international issue and the subject of Article 40 of Pakistan’s Constitution which emphasizes on strengthening bonds with the Muslim countries.

The petition named the cabinet and interior secretaries, KP chief secretary, inspectors general of police in Punjab and KP, Federal Investigation Agency’s director general and the commissioner for Afghan refugees in KP as respondents.

When asked what prompted him to file the constitutional petition on Afghan refugees, Advocate Bhutta told Dawn that some of his friends from Peshawar had told him that due to harassment of refugees at the hands of the police and even some judicial officers, they were selling their properties and vehicles at cheap prices.

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