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Finally, Afghans get their own passports

Afghan nationals possessing Pakistani passports throng missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to obtain new passport, says official.



By Haseeb Haider/principal Correspondent

Published: Mon 22 Jun 2015, 11:59 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:47 PM

Abu Dhabi - Afghan nationals carrying Pakistani travel documents are increasingly seeking Afghan passports, Fazlullah Reshteen, Afghanistan’s Charge’ d’ affaires, told Khaleej Times.

Majority among 150,000-160,000 Afghan nationals residing in the UAE have already been issued Afghan passports. Most of them were Afghan nationals born and raised in Pakistan as refugees and have made UAE their third home.

“We are receiving two to three applications every day at the embassy in Abu Dhabi and many more are applying at Consulate General in Dubai,” said Rashteen.

He estimated that at least 10,000 Afghan nationals still carry Pakistani passports. There were also Afghans who obtained Pakistani passport in fake names.

Such cases have now been solved recently, as this issue came up in discussions with the UAE leadership during the visit of Afghan president Dr Ashraf Ghani, who toured the country in January.

Three million Afghans took refuge in Pakistan and about two million moved into Iran and other regional countries after the former Soviet Union invaded the landlocked nation in 1979.

The war that lasted a decade destroyed the country and its political system. Majority of Afghan population obtained Pakistani passports for travel abroad during that time. 

As political stability is returning to the war-ravaged country under the democratically elected governments, Afghan nationals are confident to own the passport of their country of origin.

Based on their name on Afghan Identity Cards, the UAE’s Immigration and Residency Department has issued new residency permits to Afghans who could not obtain Afghan passport because of their fake names.  Pashto speaking people settled in porous mountainous border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan have family and tribal ties and they visit each other’s country even without passport.

Afghan charge’ d’ affaires said that the UAE and Afghanistan are exploring bilateral relations, spanning in the fields of security, socio-cultural, politico-economic spheres.

The recent visit of Afghan president would have a very positive impact in boosting these ties which will see a diversification as the UAE leadership is keen to continue its efforts on economic front. “There is strong willingness from the UAE leadership towards the economic development of Afghanistan,” he said.

Prisoner exchange

There are over 170 Afghans in jails here, who have been convicted for drug peddling, murder and other offences.

An extradition treaty between the two country and the recently-signed Prisoner Exchange Agreement, which will be enacted within one month, will help initiate the prisoner exchange programme.

The charge d’ affaires expected that the first batch of Afghan nationals sentenced by the UAE courts will spend their remaining jail term in Afghanistan in coming months. The UAE economy, which is growing strongly needs foreign labour force to steer the development projects and with that objective a labour treaty is in progress to source Afghan workers.

This treaty is expected to be signed in July, he said.

“This (treaty) will allow recruitment of Afghanistan workers for different skilled and un-skilled jobs in the UAE, “ Rashteen said.

haseeb@khaleejtimes.com


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