Illegal Afghan nationals and refugees in Pakistan to be repatriated: FO


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday held a second meeting of the refugee working group (RWG) under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS) to discuss the repatriation and other matters regarding Afghan nationals and refugees who are “illegally” residing in Pakistan, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.

The meeting took place at the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) in Islamabad and was led by Ministry of States and Frontier Regions Secretary Muhammad Aslam and Deputy Minister of the Afghan Ministry for Refugees Dr Alema as representatives of their respective countries.

“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,” the FO statement said.

During the meeting, both sides agreed to timelines and procedures for the repatriation of “various categories” of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan. A standard operating procedure (SOP) was then signed 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,” the statement said.

According to the 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 RWG was held on July 22 while Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was present in Kabul for the inaugural meeting of APAPPS. The working group’s next meeting will be held in Kabul at a date that is convenient for both countries.