ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Senator Talha Mahmood on Tuesday said that Pakistan will never give refugee status to those Afghans entering the country illegally and warned that anti-Pakistan elements have been crossing into the country under the guise of the refugees with an objective to create law and order issues.

The minister stated this while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), which held under the chair of Senator HilalurRehman. The minister gave a detailed briefing on the influx of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan in the wake of Taliban takeover of the neighboring country on August 15, 2021.

With regard to the new Afghan refugees, he added that the policy of the Government of Pakistan is clear and that the government is, by no means, ready to grant refugee status to Afghan nationals entering Pakistan illegally.

“Afghans are our brothers. We already have done a lot for our Afghan brothers”, the minister said, adding that the time has come that Afghan refugees should return to their country with dignity.

He said that Pakistan would regulate all entry points from Afghanistan, adding that under the guise of refugees, anti-Pakistan subversive elements have been entering Pakistan with the intention of creating law and order situation in the country.

He further stated that his ministry is in touch with the National Database and Regulation Authority (Nadra) and other relevant agencies to ascertain the number of Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan. He also expressed concern that in the past, many Afghan refugees have been able to obtain Pakistani national identity cards illegally, which needs to be addressed.

The committee members, while expressing serious concerns over the recent terrorist attacks, called for effective border management to ensure that no terrorist element cross into Pakistan.

While taking up the large number of vacant positions in offices under the local government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in erstwhile Fata, the committee expressed serious concerns over the vacant positions and issued directives for immediate appoints against the vacant posts without any political interference.

Secretary Local Government, Elections and Rural Development Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Syed Zaheer ul Islam Shah gave a detailed briefing on the vacancies in the local government offices in the newly-merged districts.

The committee members and the chairman of the committee expressed serious concerns over the large number of vacancies in the local government offices in the tribal districts. However, the secretary told the committee the process of filling the vacancies has been started and it would be completed by July this year.

Senator Dr Sania Nishtar said that all appointments of any rank should be made keeping in view the rules, regulations and merit. She said that the allegation of political interference in the appointments is a matter of grave concern.

Senator Dost Mohammad Khan pointed out the issues of victims of the landmines in erstwhile Fata, saying that the victim families whose loved ones got martyred or injured should be given priority in the recruitments against the vacant positions.

Talking about the quota reserved for minorities, Danish Kumar said that it was unfair to recruit minorities only on the posts for class-IV, adding that the minority quota should be maintained for posts in all grades.

Senator Hilal ur Rehman directed that appointments should be made on all the vacant positions at the earliest.

The committee also constituted a sub-committee, headed by Senator Dr Nishtar, to sort out the issues related to the newly-merged districts.

Senator Hidayat Ullah, Senator Haji Hidayat Ullah Khan, and Senator Dost Muhammad Khan will be members of the sub-committee.

Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD) officials gave a detailed briefing to the committee on SDG [sustainable development goals] schemes in District Mohmand and District Bajaur for the years - 2020, 2021, and 2022.

The committee was informed that work is underway on 11 projects with a total cost of Rs 475 million out of which Rs 384 million has been utilised. The chairman of the committee, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the briefing and stated that it was near to impossible to utilize such a huge amount within 40 days in areas such Mohmand district. He also expressed grave concern over the serious violation of PPRA rules in all the projects.

The meeting was attended by Senators - Anwar Lal Din, Bahramand Khan Tangi, Danish Kumar, Dost Mohammad Khan, Gardeep Singh, Hidayatullah, Haji Hidayat Ullah Khan, Dr Sania Nishtar, Shamim Afridi, Fida Mohammad, and senior officers of the ministry.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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