De­mand for repa­tri­a­tion of Afghan refugees

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS -

MAIN­STREAM politi­cians and the com­mon peo­ple, from the Tribal ar­eas to Balochis­tan, as well as peo­ple be­long­ing to other strata of so­ci­ety, are now in­creas­ingly de­mand­ing re­turn of Afghan refugees to their home­land. The ra­tio­nale of this de­mand is very sim­ple and gen­uine. Th­ese refugees are not only a heavy bur­den on the coun­try’s econ­omy but are also creat­ing se­cu­rity and law and or­der sit­u­a­tion. There is now a gen­eral pub­lic opin­ion that Pak­istan has am­ply played the role of a neigh­bour and host for the Afghans and it is time that they go back to their coun­try. In­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity es­pe­cially UNHCR has an im­por­tant role to play in this re­gard.

Pak­istan has been host­ing th­ese refugees for the past three and a half decades, which has left so­cio eco­nomic and se­cu­rity im­pact es­pe­cially in the Prov­inces of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochis­tan. There was time when the peo­ple of Pak­istan hap­pily and with great af­fec­tion cud­dled the Afghans be­cause of the war and con­flict in their coun­try but now re­al­iz­ing the fall out of their over stay, the pub­lic opin­ion lead­ers at the na­tional level as well as the peo­ple of KP and Balochis­tan are vo­cally de­mand­ing their re­turn. A protest demon­stra­tion taken out in Peshawar on Mon­day, pro­vides a food for thought to the de­ci­sion mak­ers. There is a gen­eral per­cep­tion that restora­tion of com­plete peace will re­main a far cry as long as ar­range­ments are not made for the early repa­tri­a­tion of the refugees. In fact there is a rea­son­able ground for this per­cep­tion, as in­stances are there, es­pe­cially af­ter the launch and vis­i­ble suc­cess Zarb-e-Azb op­er­a­tion, which prove that some of the Afghans refugees are not only in­volved in dif­fer­ent crimes but are hand in glove with In­dia to per­pe­trate acts of ter­ror­ism on Pak­istani soil. They have also been found in­volved in get­ting fake Pak­istani ID cards and pass­ports. In this backdrop, re­spon­si­bil­ity rests with the gov­ern­ment to chalk out a clear-cut strat­egy in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the UNHCR for ex­pe­di­tious re­turn of the refugees. Fur­ther ex­ten­sion in their stay would con­tinue to add to the strate­gic prob­lems of Pak­istan and won’t al­low the at­tain­ment of the ob­jec­tive of durable peace in the re­gion.


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