PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has directed the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to restrict the activities of Afghan refugees in the country in line with the law of the land.
A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar disposed of a petition filed by senior lawyer Mohammad Moazam Butt, who sought its orders for the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to regulate the life and work of Afghan refugees in the country and deport illegal refugees.
In a two-page verdict, the bench ruled: “No one would disagree what the petitioner has averred in his petition that activities of the refugees must be under the law on the subject and on no count they could be allowed to do what they want as the refugees have to lead a regulated and controlled life.”
It added that refugees couldn’t be allowed to conduct businesses in the country without authorisation by the relevant quarters.
The bench, however, ruled that the issue couldn’t be decided by the court while exercising its constitutional jurisdiction, so it deemed it fit to send the petitioner’s case to the respondents for taking appropriate and legal action under the law against the refugees and to regulate their lives to the possible extent so that the citizens of Pakistan could lead their lives peacefully.
Disposes of petition seeking orders to regulate life, work of refugees
It issued directives to five of the respondents, including interior, defence, State and Frontier Regions secretaries, and KP government through chief and home secretaries.
The petitioner contended that the unchecked movement and roaming of the Afghan refugees had created myriad problems for citizens of the country, so their activities must be regulated.
The bench observed that though the petitioner had argued the case at the end of his arguments, he said he would be satisfied if directions were given to the respondents to enforce the law and rules on the issue raised in the petition.
Mr Muazzam Butt said after the Soviet-Afghan war began in 1979, millions of Afghans reached Pakistan as refugees.
He said since long Afghan citizens had retained their freedom and were required to return but they chose not to do so and thus, causing multidimensional law and order situation in Pakistan.
The lawyer said the respondents were under legal obligations to regulate the life of Afghan refugees in Pakistan to protect the life, liberty and property of Pakistani citizens.
The petitioner claimed that hundreds of acts of terrorism had taken place in the country. He also pointed out several incidents of terrorism which took place in the country and resulted in loss of precious lives. He said the citizens of Pakistan had fundamental rights to life, liberty, security and property but the government was not acting in the required manner to address the cause.
The petitioner said in almost every country, foreigners could conduct businesses only after the issuance of work permits.
“This Court may be required to determine that under what authority the afghan refugees are conducting business, running shops or are directly or indirectly related to any type of business concerns in the Pakistan without any legal permits, causing adverse effect to the economy of Pakistan and compelling the citizens of this country to live in poverty,” he said.
He said the federal government and other respondents should determine under what authority of law, Afghan refugees lived in Pakistan even after the establishment of elected governments and restoration of the social order in own country.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2019