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Policy on refugees to be devised after consulting opposition parties: Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari has said a policy regarding the future status of refugees and immigrants will be devised after consultation with the opposition parties.

Responding to a call attention notice in the National Assembly on Tuesday, the minister said the issue involves a lot of legal, political and humanitarian obligations which will be considered before taking final decision on awarding citizenship.

She said the government has started the process of data collection of refugees and immigrants.The data will be collected with the assistance of UNHCR and local agencies and it will be shared with the National Assembly.

She added the issue of Beharis is different from Afghan refugees. She said  the government is ready to move forward with consensus if the opposition wants amendment in Citizenship Act.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that Afghans and Bengalis living in the country would be issued National Identity Cards and passports making them Pakistani citizens.

However, the announcement has since been criticised by opposition leaders prompting the prime minister to state that the matter is open for parliamentary debate.

PM Imran has maintained that international law doesn’t allows any country to forcibly repatriate refugees, while children born in a particular country are naturally considered citizens of that country worldwide.

He implored the to think of refugees like fellow human beings not aliens, but clarified that no final decision has been taken and the decision is open for debate.

Gas price increase will not affect poor people

The National Assembly today resumed discussion on the recently passed Finance Bill 2018. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Naveed Qamar said the incumbent government had promised not to overburden the common man but has increased the price of gas which will have inflationary impact.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry responded and said gas price has only been increased by ten percent for the poor segments of the society, while the 143 percent increase is for heavy consumers.

He further said that state-owned Radio Pakistan cannot pay salaries to employees whilst it has to pay Rs200 million to pensioners. He said 700 contractual staff were working in the organisation and advised that they should be fired immediately.

Task force to remove bottlenecks in FATA-KP merger

To another calling attention notice, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said a task force headed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor is working to remove bottlenecks and accelerate the process of merger of erstwhile FATA.

He said the tribal agencies have been re-designated as districts and sub divisions of KP, and similarly the posts of political agents and assistant political agents have also been re-designated as deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners.

Furthermore, he said aid that all the vehicles in FATA areas and locally produced products had been given tax exemption for five years.. He said federal government will provide resources worth Rs1.63 bn for the development of these tribal districts.

A constitutional amendment bill for the merger FATA with KP was passed in the National Assembly in May this year.

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