ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions met at the Parliament House under the Chairmanship of Senator Engr. Rashid Ahmed and has underlined the need for complete repatriation of the Afghan refugees as their presence was creating several social and economic problems. It observed that a complete data of the refugees living in camps and outside the camps should be prepared. The Members of the Committee expressed the view that most of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan were involved in criminal activities which makes it necessary that the refugee camps should be closed and the repatriation process should be expedited.
The Committee taking serious note of the deteriorating law and order situation in FATA, stressed the need for making collective efforts to bring lasting peace in the region. It called upon the Parliamentarians, Ulemas and tribal elders to come forward to restore normalcy in FATA and provide relief to the people of the area. It was suggested that the issues of social and economic discrepancies need to be addressed immediately to remove the sense of deprivation among FATA people and more development schemes should be launched in the region to bring them at par with the developed areas of the country.
It observed that peoples’ representatives should be taken into confidence before launching any development scheme in FATA and that release of funds should not be delayed. Members of the Committee were of the view that people of North and South Waziristan Agencies, Kurram Agency and Bajwar etc have suffered a lot and therefore it was the need of the hour to make efforts to restore peace and to improve the law and order situation in the area. It was pointed out that “Pak Afghan Shahrah” is one of the shortest road link to Afghanistan and suggested that security needs to be beefed up to ensure free movement of the people.
The Committee also condemned the brutal murders of the close relatives of Senator Hafiz Abdul Malik Qadri and Muhammad Ibrahim, a reporter of a private news channel. It also offered Fatiah for the departed souls of deceased and sympathized with the bereaved families. Earlier, the Committee was given a detailed briefing on the working and performance of SAFRON division and its attached departments. It was informed that over 4.4 million afghan nationals sought refugee in Pakistan from 1979 to 2001.
The Chief Commissioner Afghan Refugee stated that a regular census was carried out in 2005 which confirmed the presence of 3.49 million Afghans in Pakistan. He said that efforts are underway to repatriate the refugees under a tripartite agreement and that 3.334 million Afghan refugees have voluntarily repatriated from 2002 to 2008. He said that 4 refugee camps have so far been closed and steps were being taken to complete the process as soon as possible.
He however admitted the fact that the process of repatriation was too slow and the strategy needs to be reviewed completely. He drew the attention of the Committee towards the fact that lack of conducive environment in Afghanistan, the insecurity and lack of opportunities were the main factors which hindered the smooth repatriation process. Representatives of the FATA Secretariat, NWFP also briefed the Committee about the law and order situation prevalent in the FATA region and steps taken by the political administration to restore peace.
The Committee assured all out support to the ministry and its attached departments to overcome the hurdles in the way of smooth implementation of the policies aimed at bringing peace and prosperity in FATA. The meeting was attended by Senators Abdul Raziq, Ms. Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, Sardar Mehmud Khan, Dr. Muhammad Ali Brohi, Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, Muhammad Saleh Shah and Haji Muhammad Adeel. Secretary SAFRON and senior officials of the SAFRON Division and FATA Secretariat were also present.-SANA