As the deadline for illegal Afghan refugees living in Pakistan to return to Afghanistan expired on August 30, action under Section 14 of Foreign Act to either arrest or deport them is expected any time soon. The total number of such refugees is officially estimated at over a million, 60 per cent of them living in KPK. Around 400,000 reside in Peshawar alone. From now on, only those Afghan nationals would be allowed to stay who carry Proof of Registration (POR) with the UN High Commission for Refugees. The decision to send them back was taken after serious consultations on the ground that Pakistan could no longer bear such a huge burden on its economy as well as the ease with which try are being recruited by anti-state organisations, taking advantage of their situation. Pakistan played the part of a brotherly host in view of friendly relations with Kabul. But the sheer numbers have proved overwhelming for the Pakistani economy.

While the decision is timely, the prolonged stay of illegal Afghans without any documentation has been a criminal neglect. The decision must be implemented in letter and in spirit and the Afghan refugees facilitated in reaching their own homeland.