Sustainable long term Afghan Refugee policy required
ISLAMABAD: /DNA/ – The Institute of Regional Studies organized a Roundtable discussion on “Afghan Refugees and Illegal Migrants; Problems and the way forward”. Participants included Pakistan’s former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Abrar Hussain, Dr. Noreen Naseer, University of Peshawar, expert on international humanitarian and human rights law Ms Sibah Farooq, Afghan women rights activist Ms Safia Ibrahimkhel,and President IRS Amb. Nadeem Riyaz.
The participants of the view that Pakistan as a sovereign country was well within its rights to formulate policies regarding illegal migration. The timing of the decision and the implementation mechanism could be debated. Many of the Afghan migrants had been living in Pakistan for decades. The rise of terrorism incidents was not directly related to the policy.
The policy had a negative fallout in Afghanistan and with many Human Rights Organizations. The social media in Afghanistan was painting a negative picture of Pakistan and there was a need to address these misperceptions. Pakistan and Afghanistan were neighbours and improvement of relations between the two was essential for regional peace and prosperity.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and the International community should assist the Afghan refugees to return to their homeland with honour and dignity. It was essential to formulate a Legal framework in Pakistan which could assist in proper implementation of the policy. Participants also called for research, collection of proper data, and in-depth analysis of the current situation for policy modification.
Experts also felt that after the elections, the new government should develop a sustainable long term Refugee policy after consulting all stakeholders. Pakistan and Afghanistan must enhance their relationships and liberalization of trade, enhancement of people to people contacts were essential. Pakistan must develop a counter narrative to address all the misgivings in Sustainable long term Afghanistan about Pakistan.
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