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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Wednesday called for making the visa process for the Afghan refugees returning to their country transparent and smooth besides making their monitoring mechanism further strict in wake of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (Safron), which met here with Senator Hidayatullah in the chair, was given a detailed briefing about the working and mandate of the Safron Ministry.

The committee was told that the ministry is making all-out efforts to ensure honourable return of the Afghan refugees taking shelter in the country for the last so many years.

It also directed to ensure the registration of Afghan refugees living in former tribal areas, adding the authorities concerned need to ensure the registration of Afghan refugees who have been living in erstwhile Fata without proper registration.

The members of the committee also raised condition of the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas, saying despite tall claims by the government nothing is seen on the ground with regard to development of the area to bring them at par with other parts of the country. The committee sought the details about the work done by the government in education and health sectors, the two major areas where, some members claimed, nothing has been done so far. Senator Hidayatullah also discussed the issues faced by the people of former Fata as the government had made numerous commitments with them before merger of the tribal areas with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

“Nothing is being done contrary to all the tall claims by the government as there will be no compromise on the development of erstwhile Fata,” he maintained.

The committee was told that due to financial issues, three percent share from National Finance Commission (NFC) award which was supposed to be given to erstwhile Fata on annual basis could not be released.

The parliamentary committee on Fata reforms, in its recommendations, had proposed that the NFC should allocate three percent of the available resources in the federal divisible pool on an annual basis for the implementation of the 10-year development plan.

The committee sought reply from the Finance Ministry, Minister for Planning and Development and the Home Department Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in this regard as to why the three percent of the available resources in the federal divisible pool could not be given to the former tribal areas.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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