Pakistan working on policy for unregistered Afghans

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Islamabad, Jan 12: The Pakistan government is devising a new policy to deal with unregistered Afghan nationals residing across the country as the police in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and political administrations in tribal agencies gear up to launch a drive against such people, media reported on Monday.

The ministry of state and frontier regions (Safron), through a letter last week, informed home secretaries and commissioners of Afghan refugees in the country's four provinces -- Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh -- that a policy regarding unregistered Afghans was being devised at the earliest, according to Dawn online.

Pakistan

The new policy would be conveyed soon to the provinces for implementation, the letter said.

At least two million Afghan nationals are residing in Pakistan without valid documents, said officials.

However, the ministry said that Afghan refugees holding proof of registration (PoR) cards could stay in the country till the end of December 2015. Safron asked home departments to direct police and other authorities concerned not to harass Afghans carrying valid PoR cards.

It said that Afghans, whether holding PoR cards or those unregistered, involved in illegal activities, crimes or terrorism have to be strictly dealt with under the prevailing laws of the land and should be deported, whenever required.

The provincial home departments were also directed that registered Afghan refugees in respective provinces should be very clearly informed that they would be repatriated to their country by Dec 31.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is facilitating voluntary repatriation of 1.6 million registered Afghans from Pakistan. The repatriation process is going on very slowly and only 16,000 Afghans were repatriated last year.

Meanwhile, the police have expedited the campaign against unregistered Afghans in Peshawar and other parts of Khyber province. Unregistered Afghan nationals travelling or staying in the province are being deported to their country under the Foreigners Act after fulfilling legal requirements.

An official at the Torkham border check post, one of the major border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, told media that over 2,000 illegal Afghans have been deported since the terrorist attack on Army Public School Dec 16 last year that claimed the lives of over 140 students and teachers. The provincial government had directed the police to arrest illegal Afghans and deport them immediately.

On the directives of civil secretariat, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) political authorities in Khyber and South Waziristan agencies have directed tribal people to expel Afghan nationals from their properties.

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