KP opposes extension in Afghan refugees’ stay

Staff Reporter:

PESHAWAR – The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has formally advised the federal government not to give further extension to Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan, as their official stay period is going to expire on June 30 (tomorrow).

The KP government has sent its recommendations, saying the province has been suffering a lot because of Afghan refugees and is unable to bear their burden anymore, official sources told The Nation on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is out of the county and making any such important decision would require the cabinet’s approval, so the federal government has yet to decide the future of Afghan refugees, the sources said. They added the KP government had formally informed the federal government of its reservations over giving further extension to the Afghan refugees.

Certainly, this week is important for the federal government to take a decision in this connection. The last extension to the Afghan refugees had been given on December 31, 2015, during a tripartite meeting. When asked about another extension, the officials said it is highly expected that Afghan refugees would get another extension till December 31, 2017.

The KP government has prepared a new draft regarding the Afghan refugees, in which it has asked the federal government not to grant another extension. A final decision is to be taken by the federal government, they said, adding the current week is important to make any decision in this regard.

The officials said the KP government has also advised the federal government to repatriate both registered and unregistered Afghan refugees without any further delay. The officials said the provincial government had also told the federal government about the involvement of Afghan refugees in different criminal cases.

The provincial government feels Afghanistan should now take responsibility of its own people because the presence of a large number of refugees on its soil has not only overburdened its meager resources and infrastructure but also they are involved in major crimes, they said.

The official sources said major crimes like murder, kidnapping for ransom, car lifting, narcotics and smuggling were committed by the Afghan refugees who also harassed and threatened local traders through calls from Afghan SIM cards.

They said for the last many years, Pakistan had been repeatedly extending deadlines it had fixed for the return of the refugees on the request of Kabul and UNHCR. The last deadline expired in December 2015, which was extended till June 30, 2016, on the request of the Afghan government and UNHCR. Pakistan has been trying to help Afghanistan in the peace process.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani has reportedly told media persons that his province cannot bear the economic burden of the Afghan refugees anymore.

He said KP had been bearing the extra burden of more than three million Afghan refugees for more than three decades and it was the right time to take a right decision.

It has also been reported, quoting Mushtaq Ghani, that after June 30, all Afghan refugees will be restricted to their camps and will not be allowed to move freely in the province,” he said.

Similarly, in a crackdown, over 2,000 illegal Afghans have been arrested while at least 400 Afghan settlers have been deported to Afghanistan, KP police said.