ISLAMABAD, Dec 6: Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shaukatullah Khan said here on Thursday that around three million Afghans living in Pakistan either legally or illegally should go back and work for the development of their country.
He said at a press briefing at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on ‘population profiling, vetting and response survey of Afghans in Pakistan’ that he had recently visited two out of 48 reintegration sites in the neighbouring country — in Kabul and Bamiyan.
There were a lot of problems because of decades of war in Afghanistan. Electricity and other necessities of life were not available and the planned withdrawal of Nato forces in 2014 had increased the concerns of the refugees. But life had to go on, he said.
The minister said Dec 31 was the last date for repatriation of the refugees. “We don’t want to force anyone to go from the country but I suggest that the refugees should go to Afghanistan because the presence of 45 countries there had made the environment suitable for them,” he said.
UNHCR representative Neill Wright said voluntary repatriation remained the preferred solution for refugees worldwide.
He said most of the refugees were voluntarily getting repatriated to Afghanistan.
The 1.65 million registered refugees remaining in Pakistan were a residual caseload experiencing challenges to their prospects for return, he said.