The Amnesty International (AI) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have lauded the government’s decision of allowing the registered Afghan refugees to operate bank accounts in the country.

Soon after the decision was announced by PM Imran Khan through a message on Twitter, the Amnesty International South Asia praised the government’s move.

The AI said in a Twitter message: “At a time when much of the world has turned its back on refugees, Pakistan’s government has taken an excellent step to help them reclaim their dignity.”

After heading a meeting which discussed how money laundering could be curbed in the country, PM Khan tweeted: “I have issued instructions today that Afghan refugees who are registered can open bank accounts and from now onwards they can participate in the formal economy of the country. This should have been done a long time ago.”

“I commend Prime Minister Imran Khan, the government and the people of Pakistan for taking this important step in support of Afghan refugees — a forward-looking, generous gesture of solidarity of global significance,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

UNHCR Director for Asia and the Pacific Indrika Rawatte and UNHCR Representative in Pakistan Ruvendrini Menikdiwela said that Pakistan had generously hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades and should be applauded for this latest decision.

“This is a bold demonstration of humanitarian leadership in a world that is not inclusive,” Mr Rawatte said.

Ms Menikdiwela said that opening of bank accounts would allow refugees’ extended family members — living abroad — to send remittances through formal banking channels which would help increase the foreign exchange reserves in Pakistan.