Pakistan, UNHCR deny media reports regarding forced expulsion of 1.7mn Afghan refugees
By: Parvez Jabri
ISLAMABAD: Members of parliament and United Nation Human Rights Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) denied the media reports regarding 1.7 million Afghan refugees would be expelled from Pakistan by end of this year. Talking to Voice of America (VOA), Spokesman for the UNHCR Aslam Khan while terming these reports baseless said, Pakistan had no intention to oust the Afghan refugees living in Pakistan by end of 2012.
He said Pakistan was bound to fulfil its obligation, adding that the Afghan refugees possessing registration cards would not be displaced by force until they were ready to go back to Afghanistan voluntarily. He said war torn country of Afghanistan was not in a position to afford the burden of 1.7 million Afghan refugees at this stage.
Federal Minister for States and Frontier Region, Engineer Shaukatullah also said that all registered and non-registered Afghan refugees, willing to go back to their homes voluntarily, would be repatriated by end of this year.
He said, “All registered Afghan refugees who are voluntarily desirous will be allowed to go back to their homes in Afghanistan.”
Senior leader of ANP Senator Afrasiyab Khan Khattakhas said, Afghan refugees are undoubtedly a burden on Pakistan in view of the present economic situation, but these people are living in Pakistan due to their certain compulsions, therefore, he will not support their forced expulsion from the country.
He warned that forced expulsion of Afghan refugees may affect bilateral relations of both the countries.
He said both the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan should evolve a joint strategy for the return of Afghan refugees so that the return of refugees may be sustainable.
Spokesman UNHCR in Pakistan, Dunya Aslam Khan, sharing his views said return of Afghan refugees should be volunteered.
She said those refugees may be expelled from Pakistan who are living illegally here.
She said after media reports, UNHCR contacted government officials to verify these reports.
She said Pakistan made a commitment to the UNHCR Country Director that no recognized Afghan refugee will be deported from Pakistan.
According to Pakistani officials, about one million Afghans are living in KPK without valid documents.
Currently, at least one million non-registered Afghan refugees presently living in Pakistan are reported to be sent back by force.
UNHCR officials said that non-registered Afghan refugees should, therefore, register themselves before being repatriated to Afghanistan.