The government of Pakistan Thereek-e-Insaaf (PTI), it seems, has given up on the idea of granting citizenship to Afghans born in Pakistan, as the government of Pakistan held a meeting with Afghan authorities on the return of Afghan refugees. The outcome of the second meeting of the Refugee Working Group (WG) under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS) is agreement on following the “decided timeline” for the repatriation of Afghan Refugees in a gradual and dignified manner.

Though the two sides have shown consensus on repatriation of Afghan refugees under the “decided timeline”, however, the government is yet to inform the public about the “timeline”. The reason that the government fails to give a tentative timeline is the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan, where violence has reached a new level.

Worth recalling is the appeal of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before the refugees to resettle in Afghanistan and help the government in the reconstruction of the country. Pakistani government should show haste in the process. The government needs to, at least, stick to the words of the PM who had assured the UN high commissioner for refugees that his government would not pursue forced repatriation.

Given that the Afghan refugees have suffered a lot even in host countries like Pakistan, the least the government of Pakistan can do is to ensure that the repatriation of refugees takes place in the smoothest possible way. Return, no doubt, is the desirable solution. However, thinking that repatriation would be a straightforward process is not a correct assertion.

Without taking precautionary measures can turn the whole exercise a sore one. The government of Pakistan should also consider the fact that almost 72% of the returnees post-Taliban era were forced to renewed flight as the recent study commissioned by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reveals. Therefore, both sides should deliberate further on ensuring a peaceful environment in Afghanistan before the repatriation process takes place.