PESHAWAR -  Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has called upon the federal government to make an immediate decision for the repatriation of Afghan refugees.

He said that the unregistered refugees posed a threat to the security of the province. He also asked the federal government for a plan for the stay of the refugees. He suggested that there should be a regulatory regime for their businesses as well.

He said our own economy is sledging down and the black economy is surfacing, adding that their stay has overburdened the health and education sectors infrastructure. He said his government sent Sharbat Gula to hospital not to jail when she requested for stay in the province.

His government was considering giving her the status of refugee, but later she changed her mind for unidentified reasons.

The chief minister also warned the federal government against the blocking of national identity card of Pakhtuns. He said this was a dangerous act and this would create new problems for the country.

Federal Minister for Safron Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq, Qaumi Watan Party Head Aftab Sherpao, Hasil Bezenjo, Pakistan tehreek-e-Insaf senior member Shah Mehmood Quershi and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Farhatullah Babar and others attended.

Khattak said that KP was host to Afghan refugees for more than three decades. But now, the province had different challenges and that should be understood.

The Army Public School and Bacha Khan University Charsadda incidents brought to fore different challenges and therefore it was in the national interest to ensure that nobody was roaming around without identity. There was no clear concept for the stay of refugees nor their business activities regulated and therefore there had emerged a parallel economy, he added.

He said their stay was a constant burden on the infrastructure of health and education sectors. The chief minister said that their unregulated business activities brought negative impact to the local economy.

These factors should be understood before making any decision, he said. Khattak said his government constituted two committees to look into the grievances and complaints of the refugees and even if the unregistered refugees are apprehended they are brought to the committee and on the guarantees of the committee they are set free.

He said the federal government has to make a decision for the extension of the Afghan refugees. He added that there should be a clear plan in this regard. He called upon the federal government to start the registration of unregistered refugees and plan out everything and gave a policy in this regard. This would lead to maintenance of law and order situation otherwise we would live under constant security threat, he said.

He said that nobody thought of giving education to the refugees nor anybody stressed for proper looking after and making them good citizens.

He said that he always asked the international community to focus on the refugees’ problems.

The chief minister said his government would never force for forced repatriation of Afghan refugees. Under the voluntary repatriation process, 600,000 refugees, including registered and unregistered, returned back to their country. The Afghan president and ambassador were also for voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees, so that they could take part in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their country.

He said that Sharbat Gula was offered the status of refugee when she requested to stay here but later she changed her mind and asked to be repatriated to her country. He dispelled the impression that his government was forcing the refugees for repatriation. He asked that this should not be politicised because it creates problems for the country.