After Kabul starts bypassing Pak, Islamabad gives special facility to Afghan refugees
Islamabad, Feb 26: Soon after Afghanistan started exporting goods to India bypassing Pakistan via Iran's Chabahar Port, the Imran Khan government of Pakistan announced its permission to 1.5 million Afghan refugees registered in the country to open accounts with local banks.
The announcement was tweeted by none other than PM Khan who said "this should have done a long time ago".
I have issued instructions today that Afghan refugees who are registered can open bank accounts and from now onwards they can participate in the formal economy of the country . This should have been done a long time ago.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 25, 2019
Data suggest that almost 2.5 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan out of whom 1.5 million are documented. The move also came in when the US and Taliban resumed their talks in Doha.
As per the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3.8 million refugees have been repatriated to Afghanistan since 2002 but several of them returned to Pakistan owing to violence and lack of jobs and employment.
World bodies praise Pakistan for its step
According to Pakistan daily Dawn, the Amnesty International (AI) and the UNHCR lauded Islamabad's move to allow registered Afghan refugees to operate bank accounts in Pakistan.
The AI also said in a tweet: "At a time when much of the world has turned its back on refugees, Pakistan's government has taken an excellent step to help them reclaim their dignity."
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement: "I commend Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government and the people of Pakistan for taking this important step in support of Afghan refugees - a forward-looking, generous gesture of solidarity of global significance."
UNHCR Director for Asia and the Pacific Indrika Rawatte said: "This is a bold demonstration of humanitarian leadership in a world that is not inclusive," Dawn reported.
UNHCR Representative in Pakistan Ruvendrini Menikdiwela said the opening of the bank accounts will help the refugees' families living abroad to send remittances through banking channels and that will help improve Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves.