Pakistan decides to keep Afghan refugees until March 2017
A federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today took the decision regarding extension of Proof Registration (PoR) Cards and Tripartite Agreement for registered Afghan refugees along with discussing a number of other agendas.
The Afghan refugees can now stay in Pakistan until March 31, 2017, officials said it was decided during the high-level meeting today.
“Afghans are our brothers and important for us. The government of Pakistan is making possible efforts to make their remaining stay in Pakistan easy with the services they deserve,” said the prime minister during the cabinet meeting in Islamabad.
Pakistan is home to the world’s second-largest refugee population, including 2.5 million Afghans, many living there since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
According to the United Nations’ refugee office, more than five times the number of Afghan refugees returned home from Pakistan in August than in July.
The UN High Commission for Refugees said 67,057 refugees were permanently repatriated in August, up from 12,962 the month before and 1,250 in June.
In a bid to remove reservations of Afghan refugees during the process of their repatriation, the premier also ordered concerned officials to do deliberations.
Other matters including compensation rates of barren land of Chilas, defence cooperation with Indonesia, banking agreement with Jordan, amendment related to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) double taxation and trade agreements with Belarus also came under discussion.
Land acquisition for Diamer-Basha Dam approved
Meanwhile, the federal cabinet meeting also approved on Friday land acquisition for Diamer-Basha Dam.
Saying the government was committed to quelling load-shedding crisis from the country by 2018, the prime minister said with the completion of mega hydel projects in Pakistan, not only nation’s power requirements would be fulfilled but also floods could be prevented in the future.
Land acquisition was reportedly the first obligation for raising local and international financing for the grand Diamer-Basha Dam project.
Multilateral institutions, including the Asian Development Bank, had advised the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government in Islamabad to adopt an expert approach for building the big dam given its enormous funding needs and the risks involved.