ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Lt-Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch yesterday said that no registered Afghan refugee will be subjected to any highhandedness and harassment.

Chairing a meeting hosted by the Ministry of Safron about the state of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the minister said the federal government has directed the provincial governments that no registered Afghan refugee should be harassed otherwise the federal government would take action.

The minister said that no registered Afghan refugee was involved in terrorism.

He said that recommendations of the meeting would be submitted to the prime minister.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of various parliamentary parties including JUI-F, JI, ANP, PTI, PkMAP, PQWP and National Party.

Taking part in the discussion, all the political parties demanded extension in the stay of registered Afghan refugees till 2018, and were of the view that government should not push the registered Afghan refugees to leave the country.

They believed government should not damage the good reputation Pakistan had earned by providing refuge to such a huge number of refugees.

As regards those Afghans who have established their businesses, political leaders said that they should be granted work permit as they are making significant contribution in the national development of the country.

For the unregistered Afghans living in Pakistan, they said they should be taken to task, arrested and deported to Afghanistan.

Those who spoke on the occasion were Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Mehmood Khan Achakzai,  Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Sirajul Haq, Mushtaq Ghani, Mir Kabir and Ajmal Khan Wazir.

Earlier, the government had granted Afghan refugees a three-month reprieve, extending their legal stay in the country until March 31 and easing speculation about their imperilled future.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended the deadline for voluntary repatriation of registered Afghans till March 31 next year.

Thousands of Afghan refugees heaved a sigh of relief following the decision.

In June, the premier had extended the period of the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards till December 31, 2016. Registered Afghan refugees hold PoR cards that allow them to reside legally in Pakistan.

Official sources, however, attached the extension’s significance to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, where PM Nawaz is also participating. Pakistan, the sources insisted, will be in a better position to project its policy on Afghanistan “by taking a high moral ground”.

The decision to extend the refugees’ stay was ratified by the federal cabinet with the prime minister in the chair.

The details of the cabinet meeting’s agenda issued by the PM House said the extension in stay of Afghan refugees was proposed till December 31, 2017 but the cabinet only gave the approval till March 31 next year.

Sources close to the PM said the issue was deliberated upon in detail and the reservations of security agencies, interior ministry and the KP and Balochistan governments were considered.

The cabinet then decided not to grant the extension till next year-end. “The decision not to get very generous with the extension was taken keeping in view all the relevant factors. There are a lot of strings attached,” a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader had said, requesting anonymity.