KP to design new policy for ‘dignified’ return of Afghan refugees

  • Speaker Asad Qaiser says govt will convene a meeting of parliamentary leaders, officials to prepare a strategy to handle issue in a better manner

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government announced on Friday it would convene a meeting of parliamentary leaders and government officials to prepare a strategy to handle the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees in a better manner.

This decision was announced by KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser after a detailed debate on the issue during the assembly’s Friday session.

Per details, the parliamentary leaders, chief minister, chief secretary, KP Police chief and a retired civil servant and former Pakistan ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand will be invited to the meeting.

The speaker, in his ruling, observed that the matter was related to bilateral relations between the two neighbouring countries, so it should be looked into seriously in order to design a long-term policy for the repatriation of Afghan refugees.

Unveiling the stance of the provincial government, Minister for Public Health Engineering (PHE) Shah Farman said that the Afghans had migrated to Pakistan under compulsion and “we had given them refuge on humanitarian grounds”. He said the provincial government would not throw them out of the country, and urged international donor agencies to take steps for guaranteeing their complete rehabilitation.

Earlier, members from both treasury and opposition benches, including Opposition Leader Maulana Lutfur Rehman, spoke on the issue in great depth and called for repatriation of Afghan refugees in an honourable and dignified manner.

Rehman called for adopting a clear policy on the matter, saying the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had a natural bond with Afghanistan and that the history of this relationship should also be studied thoroughly for formulation of a positive and better policy.

On his turn, Sardar Hussain Babak, the parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), demanded the repatriation of Afghan refugees in a dignified manner, recalling that Afghan refugees were living in Pakistan under an international agreement.

During the session, Deputy Speaker Dr Meher Taj Roghani also observed that refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the province comprised a huge population of children and women and they should be given good treatment.

Sultan Mohammad Khan of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) said that those refugees possessing proof of registration (PoR) cards should not be harassed, while those not registered should also have been registered. He said that those Afghan refugees who had purchased properties and their children were studying (in Pakistan) should not be repatriated in a disgraceful manner.

Nighat Orakzai of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that Pakistan had shown enough hospitality and now the government of Afghanistan should accommodate its own people. “Pakistanis have shared the grief and sorrow of the Afghans, but now is the time they return to their country. She further said that the Afghan government should hand over terrorists taking refuge in their country to Pakistan.

On his turn, Sardar Aurangzeb Nalotha of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said that the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees was related to both the province and whole country, therefore the nation should be united on it.

Senior Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD) Inayatullah, Azizul Mulk Afkari of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Fakhar-e-Azam Wazir of the PPP and Qurban Ali Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also participated in the debate.