Pak seeks help to repatriate Afghan immigrants

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday urged the world community to help shift around three million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan back to their country.

Updated: Oct 29, 2011, 13:55 PM IST

Perth: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday urged the world community to help shift around three million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan back to their country.

"They (Afghan refugees) need to go back. The relief centres have to be in Afghanistan," Gilani was quoted as saying at a press conference by the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Gilani said the world seems to have forgotten the plight of millions of Afghans who were living in shanties and camps in Pakistan, years after the withdrawal of troops of the erstwhile USSR from Afghanistan. Decades of continuing conflict in their country had deterred them to return.

Pakistan shares a 2,400-km-long border with Afghanistan. According to reports, 40,000 people cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border every day.

Speaking on the eradication of polio, Gilani said Pakistan had managed to eliminate the disease, but regretted that it resurfaced in the past seven years with 132 new cases reported.

Gilani attributed the resurfacing of polio to the ongoing cross-border movement and difficulties in administering polio drops to children living in camps and villages in the inhospitable terrain along the border.

Polio remains endemic in four countries, three of which are members of the Commonwealth -- India, Nigeria, and Pakistan, besides Afghanistan.

Gilani also blamed extremist elements in those areas who were preventing administration of the vaccine. He said the government was seeking help from religious scholars to convince the "fanatics" about the importance of vaccination.

IANS