Re­turn of Afghan refugees

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -


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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