ISLAMABAD: Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch has rejected a perception that Afghan refugees will involuntarily be sent back to their country after the Peshawar school attack.
Speaking at a news conference along with Maya Ameratunga, acting representative of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), here on Tuesday, the minister claimed that the registered Afghan refugees had never been found involved in terrorism-related incidents in the country and said they would not be repatriated against their will.
“We are not going to push them forcefully. They will be sent back respectfully on a voluntary basis and according to the timeframe decided upon,” he said, adding that the Afghan refugees had been living peacefully in Pakistan for more than three decades and they respected the country’s laws.
“We will continue to maintain our traditional hospitality,” Mr Baloch said, adding that Pakistan was a responsible state of the United Nations and was committed to honouring all international agreements signed by it.
He said there were 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees in the country and the number of unregistered refugees was also almost the same. He asked the unregistered refugees to get themselves registered in view of the law and order situation.
The UNHCR’s acting representative said the unregistered Afghans did not enjoy any protected status in Pakistan and they were considered as illegal migrants and the Pakistan government had a sovereign right to take action against them.
Published in Dawn December 24th , 2014