Pakistan: No Longer Home for Afghan Refugees?

Pakistan’s foreign office said that some of the Afghan refugee camps in the country had become a serious security risk, as terrorists and militants were hiding there. It has further asserted that unregulated cross border movement of refugees also provides an opportunity to terrorists to move freely between Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the other hand, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has dismissed Pakistan’s assertions that Afghan refugees have become a source of terrorism in the country, urging the host government “not to adopt rushed solutions” for sending the displaced population back to Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been hosting approximately three million Afghan refugees for the last three and a half decades, and now Islamabad has started to make a demand for the repatriation of the Afghan refugees due to the alleged involvement of a few Afghan nationals in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. However, it is also a fact that Pakistan is also responsible for the present plight of the Afghan nation. By blaming Afghans for all ills, Pakistan’s security agencies and other institutions cannot hide their own deficiencies and poor performance. Pakistan cannot absolve its institutions of all responsibility by making refugees as scapegoats. Why did our security agencies use the Afghan Taliban to achieve regional interests while declaring them strategic assets? Not only Pakistan’s security agencies, the intelligence agencies of Afghanistan and India have also started the dirty game of indulging in proxy wars. Ultimately, it is the citizens of a victim state who become the real casualties of these regional proxy conflicts. More Afghans fled violence, persecution and ethnic cleansing and genocide as a result of regional proxy conflicts in Afghanistan throughout the 1990s. In order to appease the US, Pakistani rulers — both civil and military — became involved in the Afghan war to destabilise the pro-Soviet government of the People Democratic Party in Afghanistan by aiding and sending trained militias there. This military mis-adventure resulted in the mass exodus of the Afghans into Pakistan as refugees, and now Pakistan is reaping the harvest sown by its past rulers.

Undoubtedly, all Afghan refugees cannot be declared terrorists, as these are needy and registered displaced people who merely seek shelter in Pakistan, their neighbouring country. Many among them have been living here for many years, have made it their home, set up their businesses and are contributing to the economy of Pakistan positively. On one hand, Pakistan urges the western world to accept refugees, and on the other, the state is meting out such treatment to Afghan refugees. It is sheer injustice to punish all for the crimes committed by a few. Afghans should return to their homes, as that would be any refugee’s biggest, rather, the only dream, but before that happens those states that are responsible for the present plight of Afghans, must make efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan.

Listening, the US, Pakistan and allies? *

Courtesy: Daily Times

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