The Awami National Party has formed a committee to help address problems faced by the returning Afghan refugees. The committee headed by Lateef Afridi and having members like Mian Iftikhar Hussain will know about problems of retuning Afghans before taking them up with the relevant Pakistani authorities for resolution.

The decision in this respect was made during a meeting chaired by ANP central president Asfandyar Wali Khan here.

The participants complained Afghan refugees were being forced to leave the country in a very humiliating manner.

“Since Pakhtuns and Afghans are brothers by blood, we can understand what an honour means to them. We will knock every door, which can help resolve the issues they face while leaving,” Mr. Hussain told Dawn.

He said the ANP leaders had discussed the issue with Afghan elders and Afghan council general Dr Abdullah Waheed Poyan.

The ANP leader said the meeting of political leaders with Afghan diplomat and elders was commendable, especially when relations between the two countries were sour.

He said listening to Afghan elders and hearing from them about how they felt as they left also ended speculations

“Political nationalist forces showing a sense of solidarity at such testing times are often easily tagged by ‘patriots’ as traitors,” he said.

Mr. Hussain said the committee only wanted to help improve relations between the two countries besides helping Afghan refugees return carrying a good message that Pakistan hosted them and sent back with honour and dignity.

He said the Afghan elders requested that refugees be allowed to go home in a dignified manner and that those with luggage loaded in trucks be checked at one point only.

The ANP leader said Afghan elders also complained how returning families were struggling to sell businesses and properties and getting visas for children studying in Pakistani educational institutions.

He said the Afghan businessmen having Pakistan ID cards were willing to return those cards but wanted incentives and cards like other Afghan refugees.

“This time I feel they (refugees) are leaving for good. They are selling their properties and shifting their businesses,” he said adding that all that exercise should be facilitated by Pakistani authorities. Mr. Hussain said the ANP was going to take up those issues with the relevant authorities.

“All these problems can be solved. We would try to help address them,” he said.

He said the international community and UN should not shirk their responsibility of taking care of Afghan refugees as they returned home.

“They (international community) should ensure they (refugees) get basic health facilities and restart lives back in Afghanistan,” he said.

The ANP leader said when the CIA funded the ‘holy war’ against Soviet Union in Afghanistan under Gen Zia regime’s dirty policies, Afghan refugees were garlanded on arrival in Pakistan, so Pakistan should send them back honourably instead of baton-charging them.