PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed Chitral’s administration not to expel 19 families from the district.
The families reportedly expelled to Afghanistan by the ruler of former state of Chitral over six decades ago now seek restoration of their citizenship.
Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan asked the respondents, including the interior ministry and Chitral administration, to file response to a petition jointly filed by heads of the said families, including Ghulam Haider and others.
The families banished to Afghanistan six decades ago seek restoration of citizenship
Muhibullah Tirchvi, lawyer for the petitioners, said the court had earlier decided an identical petition filed by 65 of the affected families on Nov 9, 2016, directing the respondents, including the federal government, to provide the petitioners with all legal and constitutional rights available to other citizens of Pakistan.
He said the elders of those families were permanent residents of Gahirat area near Chitral town.
The lawyer said former Chitral ruler locally known as Mehtar got annoyed with the elders of those families over some issue and ordered their expulsion from the state in 1951 forcing them to migrate to Afghanistan.
He said the ruler enjoyed vast powers and he used to expel people from the state in accordance with his wishes.
The lawyer said after remaining in Afghanistan for many years, those families returned to Chitral along with a large number of Afghan refugees in 1982 after Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
He said the petitioners later moved a civil court, which decided the case in their favour in 2008 and issued a decree for the provision of citizenship to them.
The lawyer said the judgment was set aside by the sessions court on technical grounds.
He said the petitioners later contacted to the interior ministry with a request to restore their citizenship, but to no avail.
The lawyer said one of the grounds cited for turning down of their earlier petitions was that after their return, some petitioners made Afghan refugee cards and received ration and other assistance meant for refugees.
He said when the petitioners returned, the extremely miserable conditions forced them to receive humanitarian assistance.
The lawyer said the relevant documents showed the families in question possessed properties in the district but the local administration had planned to send them back to Afghanistan considering they’re not Pakistanis.
Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2016]]>