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Crackdown on Afghan refugees: 70 more held in Pakistan

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By Mansoor Faizy

KABUL: Soon after the deadly attack on an army-run school in Peshawar on 16th December where over 130 schoolchildren were killed, Pakistan’s security apparatus started blaming Afghans for the security mess and since then Afghan refugees’ lives became hell-like.

They are being harassed, detained whereas they are released when they grease palms of policemen.

Pakistan’s security authorities arrested 70 Afghan nationals as part of massive crackdown, media reported on Sunday.

The Afghan refugees were held allegedly for not having legal stay documents. Afghan refugees including 565 other suspects were arrested during house search and snap checking at checkpoints by Pakistani forces, the report further added.

It is not only 70 Afghans that have recently been put behind bars in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but around 937 Afghan nationals were arrested by Punjab police over past one month.

Afghans were arrested from Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Multan, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and DG Khan Parts of Punjab province.

Following the school attack, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak asked the central government to expel all Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan.

He said the presence of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan was the sole reason behind surge in terrorism, unrest and crime. The government both provincial and central level would take steps to immediately expel Afghan refugees, he further said. But official at federal government said that it’s Khattak’s personal remark regarding Afghan refugees.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that steps should be taken for honorable repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.

“Stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest and we are looking forward to forging a cooperative relationship with the Afghan National Unity Government,” Sharif said.

The Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) and UNHCR made it clear that Afghan refugees would not be repatriated forcedly rather willingly.

SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch stated there was no evidence to prove the involvement of Afghan refugees in terrorism related incidents.

We will continue to maintain our traditional hospitality, he said, however added that Pakistan is responsible member of the Unite Nations and committed to honor all the international agreements signed by the country. This includes the Tripartite Agreement on Afghan refugees and the regional Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, which guarantee that return of refugees from Pakistan to Afghanistan would be voluntary.

He added that Proof of Registration (PoR) cards issued to 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) are valid until December 31 2015.