Decision awaited: Future of Afghan refugees hangs in the balance

PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has recommended the federal government not to grant further extension in Afghan refugees’ stay in Pakistan. However, an official of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told The Express Tribune that this week is important for the Pakistani government to take a decision regarding the future of Afghan refugees.

A K-P government official, requesting anonymity, said the provincial government has sent its recommendations on further stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan in which it suggested not to grant further extension and immediately expel registered and unregistered refugees as their proof of registration card will expire on June 30.

The official added the new policy will be implemented regarding refugees in Pakistan after Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf’s return to the country.

He maintained currently the policy is under review, while discussion will also be held with army chief for his suggestions. He said the government also decided to review the 2015-17 policy regarding Afghan refugees, while the new policy would be based on the border protection law.

Validity of cards

The official added the K-P government also informed the federal government regarding involvement of Afghan refugees in different criminal cases. He pointed out so far decision has not been finalised regarding the extension on validity of PoR cards, while the UNHCR has proposed to extend the validity till 2017.

Meanwhile, NADRA would verify the cards from July 1 to August 31 and would investigate those Afghan nationals who were involved in making fake cards.

In mid air

However, while speaking to The Express Tribune, UNHCR Spokesperson Dunya Aslam Khan said so far, the Pakistani government has not issued an official notification regarding the refugees stay or their expulsion.

She said UNHCR also assists the government regarding the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees to their country. She said earlier, $200 per person were provided to refugees, while now the amount has been increased to $400 per person.

She said the federal cabinet would decide on the stay, adding they hoped the government would extend the date as some areas in Afghanistan are still unsafe.

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