ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan on Tuesday decided to expedite the repatriation of the Afghan refugees and asked the world to help Pakistan achieve this goal.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet here, which discussed the Afghan refugees’ issue in detail.

An official statement issued after the meeting said the cabinet “discussed in detail the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees. Noting that the cabinet has twice granted extension in validity of Proof of Residence Card, it was decided that the government would extend all possible facilitation towards voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees holding PoR cards.”

The cabinet also considered various recommendations for addressing the issue of Afghan refugees.

“It was emphasised that the international community should also fulfil its obligations towards shouldering this responsibility to ensure smooth repatriation and rehabilitation of the refugees,” the statement added.

Earlier this month, the federal cabinet gave 60-day extension in the PoR for Afghan refugees.

The PoR - that had expired on January 31 – is now valid until the end of March.

Pakistan has extended the validity of PoR for the refugees at least six times in the past.

The last time, the extension was granted only for a month.

This was the shortest extension ever granted.

Last month, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan had been repeatedly seeking assistance in repatriation of Afghan refugees and to work on border management with Afghanistan.

The minister said more than 60,000 to 70,000 Afghan refugees travel from Afghanistan to Pakistan and that Pakistan had given refuge to the Afghan people but “it’s not possible anymore. We want better border management and return of Afghan refugees now.”

Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, has been accusing Pakistan of sheltering militants.

Pakistan rejects the allegations, referring to its cooperation with the neighbouring country when it was in need during the Soviet invasion.

A senior official who attended the cabinet meeting told The Nation that PM Abbasi and his team decided to send all the Afghan refugees back home as early as possible.

“They hoped no more extension will be needed for the PoR to finalise the repatriation,” he said.

The official however, said it would be an uphill task for the government to compete the process within a few weeks.

The official statement said report of the committee constituted for naming of new Islamabad International Airport was also presented during the cabinet meeting.

“It was decided that the members may consider recommendations made in the report for reaching a consensus name during the next meeting,” the statement added.

On tariff rationalisation for the power sector, it said, the cabinet rejected the recommendation of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority for upward revision of power tariff and decided to maintain the existing power tariff.

The cabinet approved nomination of director on the board of directors of the Sui Southern Gas Company.

Re-constitution of the board of directors of Export Processing Zones Authority and ex-officio members in case of the Utility Stores Corporations were also approved.

The cabinet approved appointment of general manager (engineering) Karachi Port Trust.

Proposal for grant of additional charge of the post of chairman Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) was also approved.

The meeting approved appointment of executive member of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.

Pakistan Origin Card rules were also approved.

The cabinet ratified decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Energy in its meeting held on February 1, 2018.

Decision taken by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet in its meeting held on February 7, 2018, were also ratified.

Discussing the issue of land lease between the Pakistan Steel Mills and the National Industrial Parks Development and Management Company, the cabinet reiterated its resolve to promote foreign investment in the country, which would help in the growth of economy and creation of job opportunities in the country.

“It was decided to constitute a committee, headed by Minister for Privatisation, to look into the matter and present its recommendations during the next meeting,” the statement said.