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    Pakistan to expel illegal Afghans until end of 2012

    ISLAMABAD (PAN): Pakistan has decided to expel all illegal Afghan refugees until the end of 2012, an official said on Sunday.

    Pakistani federal minister for SAFRON, Eng. Shaukatullah Khan, told an Afghan delegation visiting the Punjab province, the Pakistani Cabinet had decided to deport Afghans living illegally in the country.   

    “Those living illegally in Pakistan or unregistered should return to their home country till the end of December, 2012,” he said, adding legal action would be taken against those not willing to leave.

    The Afghan Embassy spokesman in Islamabad, Zardasht Shams, hailing Pakistan’s role in serving Afghan refugees, said the decision had been jointly taken by Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials.    

    The current unrest in Pakistan did not allow the country to host thousands of refugees, he said.

    Last week, the UNHCR commissioner, Antonio Gutierrez, who met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani exchanged views on refugee problems.

    Gilani said the international community had forgotten Afghan refugees, who had to go back to their homes.

    But Afghan residents in Pakistan say the decision is aimed at seeking funds from the international community.

    Imamuddin, an Afghan living in Lahore city, said Pakistan wanted to obtain money from the world by announcing the expulsion of Afghan refugees. He said it was not for the first time that Islamabad had issued such statement. He claimed the country received 80 percent of aid meant for refugees.  

    Last year, officials said more than 10,000 Afghans in Pakistan will return to their homeland under the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)-assisted voluntary repatriation programme until the end of 2011.

    But that time some Afghan refugees said they were unable to leave behind their businesses to their war-hit homeland.

    About 10,000 Afghan refugees will return home by the end of this year, an UNHCR official, Mesri Khan, has told Pajhwok Afghan News in Islamabad.

    He said they had increased assistances for Afghans under the repatriation plan.

    mrh/ma



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