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Afghan govt seeks extension in stay of refugees in Pakistan

Updated May 30, 2016 08:33am


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PESHAWAR: The Afghan government has formally requested Pakistan to give four years extension to 1.5 million registered refugees to legalise their stay till 2020.

“The legal stay of the registered Afghans will expire by the end of June,” sources said.

A well-placed source said that a high level delegation headed by Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, Afghanistan’s Minister for Refugees and Repatriation, had requested to extend the stay of refugees for another four years.

The government had yet to decide whether to accept or reject the Afghan’s government request, the source said. “Afghanistan wants its citizens to remain in Pakistan till 2020,” he added.

Official says Pakistan ready to give extension to registered refugees till 2017

The request for yet another extension from the Afghan government came at a time when relations between the two countries are uneasy because of mutual suspicions, especially border disputes and cross-border activities of the militant groups.

Pakistan, which is hosting more than three million documented and undocumented Afghan nationals, had been granting stay to the registered refugees since 2009 on the request of Afghanistan.

Another official said that Pakistan was ready to give extension to registered refugees till 2017. He said that the offer was made during tripartite commission meeting in Kabul that discussed draft strategy for the repatriation of refugees. The ministry for state and frontier region had prepared the strategy.

Legal stay of registered refugees had expired in December 2015 and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while using his discretionary powers gave six months temporary extension to refugees in January.

Afghanistan and UNHCR favour that refugees should not be forced to return to their country and that the process should be completed through UN-sponsored voluntary repatriation programme. However, officials said that four to five families were returning under the voluntary repatriation plan on daily basis. It would take decades to complete the process if it was left to voluntary repatriation, they added.

Officials said that prime minister was likely to extend stay of the refugees for another six months by using his discretionary powers if the case was not referred to the cabinet for approval.

“On the one hand the deadline is approaching while on the other hand Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in London for treatment. If the government does make final decision then 1.5 million refugees would become illegal after June 30,” said the official, adding that prime minister had powers to give extension for another six months period without the approval of the cabinet.

The government had adopted tough policy regarding Afghan refugees after terrorists attack on Army Public School and College Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Under the 20-point National Action Plan, the government had decided to formulate a comprehensive policy to deal with the issue of Afghan refugees.

It was decided that undocumented Afghan nationals would be registered by the end of 2015 and National Database and Registration Authority was tasked to conduct the exercise throughout the country.

The plan could not the executed apparently due to differences between Safron and Interior Ministry. In the meantime, the government authorised law enforcers to start crackdown against undocumented Afghan nationals and deport them to their country after completing legal formalities. Thousands of Afghans had been arrested under the NAP.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2016


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Comments (22) Closed

Accountability May 30, 2016 08:57am

Time to send all afghan refugees back. There is a limit to it. Why don't international community spend some money and help Afghanistan by repatriation and resettlement of these afghans back into Afghanistan. How long Pakistan is supposed to shoulder this mess created by others?

Ali Mohammad Legari May 30, 2016 09:50am

Sorry Agha, no more extension we Pakistani suffered enough drug & arms our economy totally destroyed please, pls for the sake God take your nation back. This is wrong decision of Dictator in 1978 and we still suffering drone attack.

khi96 May 30, 2016 09:54am

Afghanistan is planning against Pakistan being together with India and Iran and Pakistan is cherishing them. Stupidity!

deepak May 30, 2016 10:09am

The further extension the more problems for Pakistan.

google May 30, 2016 10:11am

More extension will cause more headache for Pakistanis.

Secular Pathan May 30, 2016 10:42am

And it will be happily granted. Just give the Afghans nationality.

Spooky May 30, 2016 10:58am

No more extension please. Afghani refugees are the security issue. The afghan Government should have prepare her self for repatriation. Its not new issue its been going on for the last four decade. Its just another excuse for throwing their burden on Pakistan. They got many close friend in region they may transfer these afghan to their back yard. I totally agree with Baluchistan home minister MR Sarfaraz Bugti for issuing notice to Afghan to leave Pakistan with respect or been throwing out. Enough is enough.

S. Lalani May 30, 2016 01:59pm

Government should not give any extension. These Afghans should be forced to leave Pakistan and go back to their country. Look at the European countries - they have closed their borders and not allowing the Syrian refugees into their countries. We have been very generous with these Afghans but the thankless government of President Ashraf Ghani never acknowledged our contributions.

Sajjad Khan May 30, 2016 02:05pm

@khi96 Don't worry there are other options available to cope with this new alliance, if this administration is shrewd enough to think in new terms and seek new alliances. But with these dull and semi educated politicians there is little on the table right now.

Pathetic May 30, 2016 02:36pm

Send them across the border to Modi land.We have done more than our share. Let Bharatis get a taste. There should be an official statement in this regard and patriation should commence immediately.

immo May 30, 2016 02:43pm

i feel sorry for afghans at the same time i also understand how some of them are used against Pakistan but overall situation is pretty grim and some cunning enemy is taking advantage of such situation like always

Zia ur Rehman May 30, 2016 02:45pm

What a shamelessness. Asking for favors from Pakistan while Planning against Pakistan and helping her enemies, day and night.

Wasim Ahmed May 30, 2016 03:16pm

Planning with india and Pakistan... and wants Pakistan to host 1.5 million for four more years.. what's going on here... GOP please don't extend their stay... what we get from 35 years of hosting them.. stab in the back...

Rav May 30, 2016 04:18pm

Afghanistan is a better place than India and Pakistan in 70s . Pakistan Us and Russia are purely responsible for their current situation.

mo May 30, 2016 04:18pm

Afghan spies get caught in Pakistan, they openly speak against Pakistan and are in cohorts with India to hurt Pakistan.....and they still ask for this ? Afghanistan needs to take responsibility for their own people.

Ahmar May 30, 2016 06:34pm

@Rav Pakistan never invaded Afghanistan my friend on the contrary it is playing home to millions of refugees who along with themselves have brought AK 47 and heroin to the host country kindly make note of that

Daulat1 May 30, 2016 06:40pm

Afghans are part of the ethnic mix in Pakistan since the 150 year occupation by the Ghaznavids starting 1000 AD. Geographical borders are a modern concoction.

Sadaf May 30, 2016 07:37pm

Send all the refugees back, registered or unregistered they should leave. Why media and civil society are silent it's time to start a campaign against these refugees who are in fact enemies of Pakistan. Send them to Iran or India.

Osaf Ahmed May 30, 2016 07:39pm

The time has come to send the Afghanistan refugees home especially the way the Afghan government is involved in destabilising the border area near Pakistan. Let the Afghan government share the burden of rehousing their people with Iran and India who seem to be their new found friends. We need to start looking after our own people

KPK May 30, 2016 07:59pm

Come on guys we all know pakhtun afghan refugees are not against Pakistan. It's the Tajik dominated government in Kabul, paid by Indians, causing problems between both countries. Both Ghani and Karzai are imported leaders from America and does not represent an average pakhtun.

Khan May 31, 2016 02:08am

Maybe we can ask India to accept them all. Would greatly improve our own security if they accept. And if they refuse, well, then I wonder how that would affect Kabuls love affair with Delhi.

Marcus_715129 May 31, 2016 04:50am

A Big No....thank you for your short stay now please return to your country and tell them why you were sent back....why doesnt India take on the Afghans......they seem to be getting on so well.