There are around 1.5 million registered and 1 million unregistered Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan. These refugees have lived here for more than three decades, their number crossing 5 million in 2001 and 3 million of them having been repatriated are few of the considerable facts.
There are several reasons why and how afghan refugees have turned out to be a social, economic and security burden on Pakistan.
From introduction of Kalashnikov culture and sectarian violence to smuggling of drugs and opium, many refugees are a direct cause of social disturbance in our society.
According to government data, Afghan refugees have occupied hundreds of thousands of jobs. Many of the afghan businessmen do not pay taxes. Pakistani Government receives only $80 annually for each Afghan refugee and that amounts to nothing.
Most of the suicide attacks have been traced to Afghan refugee camps including the recent Lahore bomb blast. Refugees are also involved in smuggling of weapons across the border that has given rise to crime rate in many localities.
Pakistani Government has extended their stay until the end of 2017, after which they are supposed to be repatriated immediately, although this deadline trend has now become more of a formality. On the other hand, Human Rights Watch blames Pakistan for forced repatriation of refugees back to their country which is currently unstable and unfit for their return. It is the need of time that Pakistani and Afghan Governments, and international community along with UNHCR take serious and effective measures to find a practical and moderate solution to this case.
LET THEM STAY ONLY IF..
Turkey gets more than $1300 annually for each Syrian refugee. Pakistan must demand more funds and aid from international community to bear the needs of refugees. If granted a certain increase in aid, we could permit the refugees to stay for few more years until Afghanistan gets stabilized to a certain degree. Moreover, we need to enhance our security system to ensure there’s no refugee involved in terrorist or criminal activities.
REPATRIATE THEM IMMEDIATELY IF..
If our demand for extra aid goes unheard and Afghan Government keeps supporting India on various issues then we must repatriate the refugees by the end of this year, no matter what. Our country and its people have already suffered much due to these refugees. We have served them enough, now it is their time to go back.
The Government of Afghanistan must ensure a safe and healthy return of refugees back to their country. Provision of jobs, houses and security needs to be taken care by Afghan Government with the help of international community.
ROLE OF MEDIA:
Media must play a responsible role in creating awareness and highlighting the issues faced by both Afghan refugees and Pakistan. It should also help in creating a public opinion that can facilitate the governments to formulate a better future strategy.
written by: Faizan Shahzad (Team PS)