PESHAWAR: Afghanistan, as an independent entity, enjoys friendly relations with many countries, including India, but it should not be lumped together with India on important issues, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal said on Wednesday.
A high-level diplomatic delegation, comprising ambassadors of Afghanistan, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union and the Charge d’Affaires of the Netherlands, head of ECHO Pakistan, Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees Dr. Imran Zeb Khan and UNHCR Representative Indrika Ratwatte attended the inauguration ceremony held at the Azakhel repatriation centre.
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The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) inaugurated the agency’s second voluntary repatriation centre in Nowshera district, to facilitate the safe and dignified return of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan.
Zakhilwal who was speaking to the media said that there was misrepresentation of facts concerning India’s influence in Afghanistan.
Answering a question on the Saarc Summit, the Afghan envoy said that although Afghanistan was not a prominent member of the Saarc grouping, it was geographically part of both Central and South Asia.
“Pakistan is the closest country to us in South Asia and any decision taken will be on the basis of bilateral relationships. We have good relations with India, but intend to have even better relations with Pakistan,” he asserted.
With the opening of a new centre in Azakhel in Nowshera, UNHCR now has the capacity to facilitate the return of up to 10,000 refugees every day via the Torkham border crossing, a UNHCR statement said.
Appreciating Pakistan’s decision to extend the stay of Afghan refugees till the end of March next year, UNHCR’s Representative Indrika said: “This … is an important decision … which recognises the importance of policies to manage the legal stay of registered Afghans in Pakistan.”
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Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees Dr Imran Zeb Khan said: “Pakistan has ensured that the repatriation remains voluntary and that returns are conducted in safety and dignity.”
Dr Zeb also acknowledged the commitment and ownership of Afghanistan to facilitate the repatriation of Afghans and the steps taken to enable their sustainable reintegration.
Dr Omar Zakhilwal encouraged Afghan refugees to return to their homeland “despite challenges and join the nation-building process.”
Courtesy : Express Tribune