100,000 non-registered Afghan refugees documented in one month: Senate told

ISLAMABAD: Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (R ) Abdul Qadir Baloch on Friday apprised the Senate that over 100,000 Afghan refugees have been registered in a month under a drive for documentation of the non-registered refugees.

Responding to various supplementary questions during Question Hour, the minister said a large number of the refugees were visiting the registration centres daily for the documentation.

He said currently there were around 1.4 million documented Afghan refugees in the country.

The minister said some 2 million Afghan refugees had returned to Afghanistan during a period of 2001-2004. However, the process was slowed down after 9/11, he added.

He said the incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also made serious efforts and announced an attractive package for the returning refugees.

He said earlier, $ 200 per head was being paid to the returning refugee which was later increased to $ 400 each by the UNHCR commissioner resulting surge in repatriation of the refugees.

The minister said the Afghan Ambassador in Pakistan was also motivating the refugees to return to their country.

To a question, the minister said some 640,000 refugees have returned to Afghanistan during 2016.

Qadir Baloch said the repatriation of registered Afghan Refugees is guided by the principle of voluntarism and gradualism as embedded in the Tripartite Agreement signed between Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR that is valid till December 31,2017.

The Federal Cabinet in its meeting held on February 7, 2017 had also approved to continue with the existing policy of voluntary and gradual repatriation of registered Afghan refugees with the assistance of UNHCR, he said.

He said the validity of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards of registered Afghan refugees and Tripartite Agreement has also been extended up till December 31, 2017.

To another question, the minister said terrorism badly suffered both North and South Waziristan Agencies and three cadet colleges were working in these agencies to provide quality education to the students. He said Cadet College Razmak had set up before the partition and two new cadet colleges including Wana and Spinkai were set up recently.

Meanwhile, the minister informed the House that PNCA organized 21 programmes during one year across the country including FATA.