Return of Afghan refugees
Pakistan has demonstrated exemplary goodwill and generos ity by hosting millions of Afghan refugees over the last three and a half decades, the world community especially the major capitals have failed to deliver on their promises to provide necessary assistance not only for their relief but also for their return to Afghanistan. After the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union back in 1979, Pakistan had open heartedly opened its borders for the fraternal brothers to take refuge in and depicted full hospitality by meeting their immediate requirements. Even after the passage of so many years, we continue to extend the same warmth despite its adverse impact on the country’s socio-economic fabric and the security.
In recent times, however, we have seen increasing demand not only from our political leaders but also the public at large about the early reintegration of these Afghan refugees to their homeland. Without delving into the reasons behind this change of mindset in Pakistan, we believe that time has come that the Afghan government supported by world community, should create pull factors to attract these refugees back to their homes. Talking to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Fillippo Grandi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar rightly pointed out that with the presence of an elected government in Afghanistan, the situation for the return of refugees should improve. The question is whether the Afghan government and the US, which has extended its stay in the country, are doing enough in this regard. The answer is clearly not in affirmative as one of the major pull factors for these refugees, apart from the assistance for their rehabilitation and reintegration activities, is the peace and stability of the country - something which the US does not want because of its own agenda in the region. Washington’s decision to prolong its stay in Kabul smacks foul and it is understood it will have severe implications for regional peace and stability. Anyway in the current scenario, Pakistan needs to engage deeply with the Afghan government as well as the UNHCR to prepare a proper time bound plan for the expedited repatriation of the refugees. This is, therefore, necessary to put our own house in order and maintain the writ established as a result of successful Zarb-e-Azb operation.
The reasons are: One: The CIA and ISI, planned and conducted “this covert war, fought so overtly, supported by the Jihadis from seventy countries of the world.” Thus “a strong power base of resistance” emerged, which defeated a super power and was considered dangerous for the expanding American interests against the declining Soviet power. Two: The upsurge of the Jihadi culture and the possible establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was seen as a threat to the rising power of the West and therefore it had to be contained and curbed. Three. The ISI had developed world-wide
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