Speakers reject forceful repatriation of Afghan refugees

Zubair Qureshi

Majority of policy analysts at a roundtable organized here on Saturday by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) rejected the idea of forceful repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees from Pakistan calling it unwise and harmful for the national interest.
It may be mentioned that as a consequence of deteriorating relations with the Kabul regime and a reaction to the pressurizing tactics of Washington, the Pakistani policymakers have decided not to extend the POR cards of Afghan refugees beyond 31st January 2018 and send them back to their country. While addressing on the occasion, Khalid Rahman, Director General of IPS, was of the view that it is simply not possible to send back 2.4 million registered and an unknown number of unregistered refugees currently residing in the length and breadth of the country without a comprehensive plan and research-backed policy.
He said, there were two views about the presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan: one considering them an asset and the other a liability. However, the issue must not be seen in black and white as there were many grey areas in it with several shades. Decisions should not be based on perceptions and reactions; a lot of research and policy dialogues was needed to address this issue of critical national and regional importance, he emphasized.
Lt General (R) Asad Durrani, former ISI chief, said that it was not in the interest of Pakistan to repatriate millions of Afghans forcefully and ruin the investment of four decades. Two generations of them have been born here and majority of their youth have hardly seen their native areas, he added.

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