Time has come for repatriation of Afghan refugees: Minister     

Time has come for repatriation of Afghan refugees: Minister     

ISLAMABAD: (APP) Minister for State and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch on Wednesday said time is ripe for repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland and the government is seriously considering this issue.

Speaking in a private news channel program, the minister said, Pakistan has been hosting these refugees over the decades and now they should be sent back home with respect and dignity. "Hosting them was our international commitment and we have fulfilled it. As they are extra burden on our economy, they must go back."

He however called for a fair planning and generation of means for their repatriation as Pakistan does not want to do it by force. "There are some issues of time span and strategy regarding their repatriation and we shall discuss that at our meeting shortly."

Answering a question, he said nothing concrete has been done in this regard by the Afghan government during tenure of Hamid Karzai and the present Afghan government. "However, UNHCR is on board and some international donors from European Union have also sent some positive indicators to help in their going back."

He said after the influx of refugees to European countries among whom 30 percent are Afghans, these countries are considering a role in repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan.

He said an Afghan Minister is also coming to Pakistan in this regard and we shall also urge him to take concrete steps for their repatriation.