Pakistan launches campaign to register Afghans

Islamabad, October 15:

Pakistan’s government today launched a campaign to register and issue identity cards to millions of Afghans, in the first programme aimed at getting a profile of the Afghan population

living in Pakistan, a UN refugee official said.

More than 90 centers across Pakistan will register the Afghans and issue them “proof of registration” cards in the campaign to end Dec. 31, said Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There are 2.5 million Afghans in Pakistan, many of whom arrived after the 1979 military invasion of Afghanistan by the former Soviet Union. But some Afghans are in Pakistan to find work and escape poverty in their homeland.

Afghans mainly live in dusty refugee camps or in squalid settlements near some major cities across Pakistan.

The National Data and Registration Authority will enroll the Afghans and issue them cards carrying their names, photos, educational qualifications and places of origin, in the first registration scheme since Afghans started arriving in Pakistan in 1979, Tan said. “It will give (the Pakistani government) a clear sense of who is in their country ... it will help the government get a profile of the Afghan population in Pakistan,” she said.

UNHCR has provided US$6 million (euro4.8 million) for the Pakistani government program,

she said. Some Afghans left their country to escape the repressive rule of the Taliban militia.