Pak, Afghan delegations meet to discuss 'dignified return' of refugees

Published November 7, 2018
This April 2017 file photo shows Afghan refugees gathered outside a registration point of the UNHCR in the Chamkani area for repatriation. — APP/File
This April 2017 file photo shows Afghan refugees gathered outside a registration point of the UNHCR in the Chamkani area for repatriation. — APP/File

Pakistan and Afghanistan held a second meeting of a refugee working group (RWG) under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS) on Wednesday to discuss matters relating to Afghan refugees as well as other Afghan nationals "illegally" residing in Pakistan, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.

The meeting, held at the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) in Islamabad, was led by Ministry of States and Frontier Regions Secretary Muhammad Aslam on behalf of the Pakistani side, and Deputy Minister of the Afghan Ministry for Refugees, Dr Alema.

According to the FO statement: "Both sides deliberated on ways to enhance mutual cooperation for a dignified, gradual, time bound and complete return of the Afghan nationals to their country."

It added that it was decided during the meeting that agreed timelines and procedures for repatriation of "various categories" of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan "would be observed".

In the meeting, the two parties also signed off on standard operating procedures (SOP) to streamline the working of the RWG.

"APAPPS working groups work on the principle of direct, regular contact between [the] relevant ministries in both countries, under the umbrella of the politico-diplomatic working group co-chaired by the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs."

According to the FO statement, the two sides emphasised the importance of the APAPPS to further bilateral relations between the countries and agreed to "optimally utilise" it to "deepen engagement, communication and understanding for [the] early return and resettlement of Afghan refugees," as well as, to promote cooperation under numerous working groups.

The first meeting of the working group was held on July 22 while Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was in Kabul for the inaugural meeting of the APAPPS.

The next meeting of the APAPPS working group is to be held in Kabul at a date that is convenient for both sides.

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