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Published Date: Sep 4, 2006

STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATIONS ON THE FUTURE OF AFGHAN REFUGEES IN PAKISTAN

Executive Summary

The impending end of the Tripartite Agreement [1] created the need for broad based consultations among stakeholders about possible solutions for approximately 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Realizing this need, the UNHCR requested the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), an independent organization, to hold public dialogues on the future policy options for Afghan refugees. The objectives were to solicit opinions and support an informed debate on future policy options to address Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and to identify viable policy options and propose recommendations to policy-makers. Given that there is no formal enunciation of the changing framework within which Afghan refugees have lived in Pakistan, this report provides the policy context of the varying responses and initiatives undertaken by the Government of Pakistan and UNHCR.  The consultations were held in two tiers: focus group discussions with Afghan and Pakistani groups; recommendations from these meetings were debated at high-level meetings among Pakistani stakeholders. Nearly 200 Afghan and Pakistani civil society representatives participated in the debates held in the federal and provincial capitals.[2]

[1] According to the Tripartite Agreement, signed between the UNHCR, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all Afghan refugees were to repatriate in three years, by March 2006. the Agreement has been extended till December 2006 and is expected to be renewed for three more years, till 2009.

[2]  Journalists, trade and business associations, NGO workers and human rights activists, educationists, doctors, engineers, political party representatives, local bodies and retired government officials participated in the discussions.