Rifaqatullah Razarwal

The renewal process for Proof of Registration Cards (PORs) for heads of families among long-term Afghan nationals legally residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is encountering delays, leading to significant challenges.

The non-issuance of POR cards to legally residing Afghan citizens has exposed them to difficulties with law enforcement and security forces. Concerns loom over potential expulsion upon arrest, leaving families in a vulnerable position. Moreover, the absence of the head’s card deprives these families of monthly benefits from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Yad Rasool, a 70-year-old resident of the Afghan refugee camp Khurasan in Peshawar district, shared his predicament with TNN. Having lived in Pakistan for 35 years, he highlighted the sudden cancellation of his cards in 2022, disrupting the regular issuance every three years. Despite new cards for his family members, Yad Rasool faces uncertainty, fearing potential isolation in Afghanistan at his age.

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The lack of valid cards has halted the monthly ration distribution from UNHCR for families like Yad Rasool’s, despite records indicating legal residency. The Interior Department’s latest data reveals that 18,650 individuals are residing illegally across 27 districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa out of the total 36.

Yad Rasool’s 65-year-old wife, Shireena, expressed concerns about the family’s fate if their guardian is deported. She emphasized that their children were born in Pakistan, and the prospect of returning to Afghanistan amid cold conditions and uncertain living arrangements is daunting.

Shireena urged higher authorities to promptly issue a card to her husband, stressing the need for management in local schools and madrassas, where their grandsons attend. Despite attempts to seek clarity, UNHCR spokesperson Qaiser Afridi remained unresponsive.

Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti reported in the Senate that approximately 300,000 Afghan refugees had been expelled from Pakistan, with 8,000 removals by authorities and the rest departing voluntarily. The ongoing challenges faced by Afghan residents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa underscore the urgent need for streamlined ID renewal processes and support from relevant authorities.