Special committee formed to take up complaints about refugees harassment
PESHAWAR: Amid complaints of mistreatment of refugees at the hands of policemen, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police have sought policy guidelines from the federal and provincial governments about dealing with registered and unregistered Afghan nationals, a source told.
An official said the provincial poice authorities have written to the government to give them policy guidelines regarding those having the proof of registration (PoR) cards issued to registered refugees, and others without any document.
“Many of those having no POR cards are illegal immigrants under the definition of the Foreigners Act. The UNHCR authorities have made it clear that they are not refugees and government of Pakistan has to deal with them as per its own policy,” said a communiqué sent to the KP government and through the proper channel to Islamabad. The document stated that unregistered immigrants in such a large numbers are a serious threat to the law and order situation.
“The KP Police have suggested to the provincial government to take up the issue with the federal government and define policy regarding unregistered Afghans. The police also suggested that the concerned diplomatic missions should prepare list of all these illegal immigrants to get work permit, visa or any other document for them to justify their stay,” a senior cop told .
The official informed that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police have formed a focal group of the police, members of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and representatives of the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar to take up complaints filed by any of the refugees. The focal group is being headed by the senior superintendent of police (SSP) operations, Peshawar.
There were a number of complaints about mistreatment of Afghans, both registered and unregistered refugees at the hand of the cops, especially Peshawar Police. Many of those who have not obtained the PoR cards now seek time so they can register themselves and their families to legalise stay in Pakistan.
A delegation of Afghan refugees the other day called on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan with a number of complaints against the KP Police. The delegation led by a senior PTI leader and former chief secretary Rustam Shah Mohmand also met Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to discuss the issue of Afghans’ harassment.
The provincial government has formed a high-level committee to take up the issues of Afghans. The Special Branch has also been directed to set up a new counter to expedite the verification cases of Afghans.
“We have notified our cellular and toll-free numbers and anyone facing any complaint can call or message us, on their own or through any consulate or UNHCR official, relative or friend. Those harassing the Afghans will be taken to task,” a senior police official said. For any complaint, Afghans have been asked to call or text at: 0315 900777 or 8855.
Under the National Action Plan, the KP Police have accelerated drive against the Afghans who do not possess any kind of document to justify their stay in Pakistan. According to an official, around 10,000 unregistered Afghans were arrested during search operations and snap checking during the current year under the 14-Foreigners Act.
“The cops arrest those who don’t possess any kind of identification as they can be a serious threat to the law and order situation,” said a cop. He denied the arrest and harassmentof those havingproof of registration cards.
“If someone has any complaint, we have circulated our contact details. All these complaints will be properly probed and action taken if any mistreatment to any registered refugee was proved,” he added.
According to reports, the return of Afghans accelerated over the last few weeks amid reports of arrest of more foreigners during search operations. According to estimates of the UNHRC, over 42,000 Afghans have officially returned to their homeland during the current year.
Also, there are thousands of Afghan nationals who are believed to have got fake CNICs during the last several years. A large number of Afghans are living in the posh, urban and suburban localities for the last several years where they own houses, businesses and other properties. Majority of them have started packing up to leave for their country if the government did not announce any package for their further stay in Pakistan.
Thousands of Afghans used to enter Pakistan via Torkham every day without any proper documents to meet relatives, visit local hospitals, for business trips and other purposes. After the construction of a gate and installation of the border management system, they will have to register themselves at Torkham before entering Pakistani territory.