Islamabad - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has confirmed reports of police harassment of registered Afghan refugees living in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

“Yes, we are receiving reports of the incidents of police harassment mainly from KP,” UNHCR spokesperson Ms Dnuya Aslam told TheNation.

She said so far 42,000 Afghan refugees had returned to Afghanistan this year.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended the stay of 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees until December 31, 2016.

There is a three-way agreement between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and all three signatories agree on voluntary, dignified and gradual return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.

The government sources privy to the developments about the Afghan refugees are expecting it the last extension in the stay of Afghan refugees as government is actively working on a comprehensive policy that envisages repatriation of all Afghan refugees to their homeland at the earliest.

“Since return of Afghan refugees is part of the national action plan (NAP), the government is gearing up to work out plans before the six-month extension in stay expires late this year,” a senior government functionary requesting not to be named said.

The official said that there were 1.6m registered Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan and majority of them were living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan while their number in Sindh was 65,000.

He regretted on the Afghan government faltering on commitment in creating requisite conditions for the settlement of the returning refugees.

He was of the view that that more than one million unregistered Afghans living in Pakistan were a security threat to Pakistan. 

The KP government had launched a hunt for illegal Afghans since the grisly terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar two years ago which left more than 150 people dead, mostly schoolchildren.

Chairman of the ruling PTI in KP Imran Khan yesterday had a meeting with a delegation of the Afghan refugees from KP and assured them that KP police would not harass the registered refugees.

He did not hold out any categorical assurance about continuous checking of illegal Afghan nationals living the province.

Following this development, the KP government on the very next day announced that it will carry out checking of registered Afghan refugees and illegal Afghans living in the province in a more scientific and disciplined way.