ISLAMABAD - Pakistan will seek US role in evolving a meaningful roadmap for repatriation of millions of Afghan refugees in addition to discussing other key issues during the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif beginning on Monday (today).

“Repatriation of Afghan refugees is also on the agenda of Prime Minister when he meets the US President Obama”, a senior Pakistani diplomat told The Nation, stating‘repatriation of refugees is part of Afghan issue’.

Other important issues that will figure high during the meeting are enhancing bilateral cooperation in defence, civil nuclear programme and trade and investment, the official added while requesting anonymity.

Repatriation of refugees gained significance because of security concerns that have increased following the two major terrorist attacks including PAF Badaber base, Peshawar and Army Public School believed to have been engineered in Afghanistan.

Islamabad is indecisive to implement the looming December 31 deadline for the repatriation of more than three million Afghan refugees after requests from UNHCR and Afghan government to extend the deadline for next two years.

In August, Kabul had requested Islamabad to register Afghan refugees to stay on in Pakistan for another two years. But Islamabad is shying away to respond to these requests and instead wants the role of the US to help facilitate early repatriation.

As an interim strategy, Islamabad is encouraging voluntary repatriation of registered Afghan refugees and has launched Rs 170 million comprehensive programme to register Afghans who are illegally living in Pakistan.

The programme has started across the country and a 100-member Afghan delegation would soon visit Pakistan to monitor the registration of illegal Afghan nationals in Pakistan.

In June, UNHCR chief António Guterres had requested Islamabad to review the December 31 deadline and do not force the Afghan refugees to leave Pakistan.

In his meeting with Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, Guterres had stressed the need for drawing up a ‘viable roadmap’ for the return of Afghan refugees .

A statement issued by the Foreign Office at that time said that issues related to Afghan refugees in Pakistan and their voluntary repatriation back to their homeland were discussed during the meeting.

Guterres acknowledged the efforts by Pakistan for hosting the world’s largest refugee population for more than three decades. In response, the Adviser also appreciated the UNHCR’s continuous engagement with Pakistan over return of Afghan refugees .

Sartaj suggested that the UNHCR, supported by the International community, should assist the current Afghan government in creating ‘pull factors’ inside Afghanistan, which would be helpful in the reintegration of Afghans returning from Pakistan.

“In this regard, both felt a strong need for donors to provide immediate, tangible and concrete support for reintegration activities inside Afghanistan,” the statement said.

It was also agreed that with the peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan and the commitment shown by the current dispensation, it was the time for successful repatriation and reintegration of Afghan refugees .