ISLAMABAD - The participation of Afghan refugees in rallies organised by Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement has prompted the Pakistan government to take up the issue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Sources confided to The Nation that Islamabad has decided to take up the issue with the UNHCR to restrict the Afghan refugees from taking part in political activities, especially participating in the PTM rallies, which many believe, follows ‘anti- Pakistan agenda’ and its activities are allegedly sponsored by RAW and NDS.

The sources said that hundreds of Afghan refugees have been taking part in the PTM rallies being held in various parts of the country while some alleged that the PTM enjoys the support of more than 1.3 million Afghan refugees.

The government has been repeatedly saying in the past that Afghan refugees have become a security risk for Pakistan and they should be repatriated to Afghanistan.

The government has extended a stay of Afghan refugees on the request of the Afghan government as well as the UNHCR till June. 

Meanwhile, the government documented around 0.8 million unregistered Afghan refugees till February this year.    

The SAFRON data suggests that these unregistered Afghan refugees have been documented under the Afghan Citizen Card (ACC) project introduced after the approval of the federal cabinet to give them an identity.

The sources said the repatriation of registered Afghan refugees was guided by the principle of voluntarism and gradualism as embedded in the tripartite agreement signed between governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UNHCR.

Under this arrangement, more than 4.3 million registered Afghan refugees had been repatriated to Afghanistan since 2002 which is marked as the largest voluntary repatriation in UNHCR’s history.

The government of Pakistan encourages the repatriation of Afghan nationals and it is also considered as the most preferred option.

During last four years, a maximum repatriation was carried out in 2016 when a repatriation grant for the returnees was increased from $200 to $400 per returnee by the UNHCR which was again decreased to $200 in 2017.

The government of Pakistan has approached the traditional/non-traditional donors to provide funding to increase the repatriation grant to $400 so that maximum reparation may be carried out.

Similarly, the ministry of SAFRON is approaching the government of Afghanistan to initiate developmental projects for the returnees in Afghan.



Pakistan to take up issue with UNHCR