ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights was informed on Monday about the grim situation being faced by Pakistan due to the presence of over 1.4 million Afghan refugees, following the refusal by the US and European countries to receive further Afghan asylum seekers. The committee members were also surprised to learn that the government has so far not devised any policy in this regard.
Briefing the members of the committee, which met under its chairperson Dr Mahreen Razzaq Bhutto of the PPP, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Pakistan could not afford the influx of further refugees and, at the same time, they could not forcefully send these refugees back across the border, where there was a threat to their lives.
The committee members were informed that the Afghan nationals, who had arrived in Pakistan after August 2021, were not considered refugees as they were asylum seekers who wanted to move to the US and some European countries.
The official said if these Afghans were not allowed to go to their desired countries, the government would look into how they could be taken care of.
Talking to Dawn, North Waziristan MNA Mohsin Dawar said it was surprising the authorities did not have any guideline or policy to deal with these asylum seekers. He regretted that the committee was not even informed about the number of asylum seekers who were stranded in Pakistan.
“Whatever is their number, the problem wants to do with them,” said Mr Dawar.
The chairperson of the committee directed the Islamabad police to behave better with these Afghan refugees, including women and children, presently camped in parks and open spaces in the capital.
Missing MQM workers
Also on Monday, Kishwar Zehra of MQM-Pakistan raised the issue of the recovery of the bodies of the “missing” party workers from different parts of Sindh.
Ms Zehra protested over the killing of the MQM workers who had gone missing from Karachi several years ago and called for action against those responsible for such a heinous crime.
Terming these “extrajudicial killings”, the MQM lawmaker called it a serious violation of the human rights.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022