Balkhi, Aziz confer on Afghan refugees’ voluntary repatriation
AT Monitoring Desk: KABUL: In an attempt to take into account the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, a trilateral meeting among Afghan delegation, high-ranking Pakistani officials and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would be held in Pakistan today (Wednesday).
The UNHCR said in a press release on Tuesday that Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Refugees and Frontier Regions Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch, his Afghan counterpart Sayid Hussain Alimi Balkhi and representatives of the UN agency would attend the meeting.
The source said that the meeting would be followed by a joint press conference where they would provide information about their discussions they had made prior to the press conference about problems of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and in particular extending their stay.
According to another report, the Refugees and Repatriation Minister, Sayid Hussain Alimi Balkhi during his visit to Islamabad on Tuesday met with Sartaj Aziz, advisor to Pakistani prime minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs.
The two sides exchanged views on different issues related to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Aziz renewed Islamabad’s commitment to the principles of voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, and said that there was a need for coordination on pursuing attainable goals.
Both sides underlined close coordination among Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the repatriation of refugees.
Balkhi and Aziz talked about repatriation of refugees from Pakistan and their sustainable reintegration in the country.
A statement by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) said the advisor expressed satisfaction with the Afghan government’s efforts to develop a comprehensive plan for the return of refugees. Balkhi expressed pleasure for the hospitality of Pakistan to the Afghan refugees over the past three decades.
He underlined that concrete measures had been taken to intensify the return of refugees and ensure their reintegration in Afghanistan, including allocation of plots, creation of jobs and microfinance and tax-free schemes.
Life became difficult for Afghan refugees in the aftermath of a deadly attack on a school in Peshawar city. More than 5,000 Afghan refugees have been arrested, 54,000 expulsed and hundreds of families forced to leave and return back to home.
The Afghan delegation led by the Refugees and Repatriation Minister landed in Islamabad three days from now in a bid to discuss extension of Afghan refugees’ stay in Pakistan and their harassment by Pakistan police.
The delegation, including Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai, the other day met with Abdul Qadir Baloch, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor, Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi, Chief Minister Parvez Khattak and a number other senior officials in Peshawar.
During the discussions, the two sides agreed to come up with a better mechanism to end pressure on Afghan refugees in Pakistan and decide on extending their stay.