Along with births and deaths, migration is one of the three factors that affect population growth or decline. As a social phenomenon, migration is fairly complex; it results from a variety of factors. The most important, tend to be economic and a perception of great economic opportunity and prosperity in the new homeland (temporary or permanent). Other factors that contribute to migration include social and religious bigotry, dislike for prevailing political regimes, and reunite one’s family. All these forces combine to push some individuals out of their homelands and pull them to areas they believe to be more attractive.

International migration changes of residents across national boundaries-has been a significant force in redistributing the world’s population during certain periods of history. Immigration policies have encouraged or restricted entry depending on the rule of the situation. Influx of foreigners and consequent increases in population and pressure on economy and employment and other factors may call for serious restrictions. In contrast, many countries especially those in Europe, are currently receiving a much higher proportion of immigrants.

Political, social and economic factors play a significant role in determining the nature of immigration policies of countries, especially in Europe and Asia. The political and economic problems of developing nations are only intensified by massive migration, begun under desperate conditions. Developing countries in Asia and Africa are encountering difficulties as thousands of displaced people seek assistance and asylum. At the end of the year 2000, an estimated 15 million people world-wide were refugees or asylum seekers. Half these people came from two areas, Palestine and Afghanistan.

The first wave of Afghan refugees settled in Pakistan during the soviet war era of 1980s and since then, an estimated three million Afghans have moved to the neighboring country. It was in the spirit of bringing hope and restoring faith in humanity that Pakistanis welcomed their Afghan brethren from across the border. Looking after the needs of this large refugee population in the world was a gigantic task. Playing a good host for more than three decades Pakistan has lived up to its global commitments. It is time now to remind the world of its commitment for Afghanistan, especially in the background of global refugee crisis that remains under spotlight. Global donors had pledged in 2008, over twenty billion dollars to support the Afghan national development strategy, under a plan that aimed at bolstering reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan to help encourage safe return of Afghan refugees to their country from Pakistan. The faster the said plan is implemented, the speedier it would be for Afghan refugees to resettle in their home country and familiar environment. Refugees returning to Afghanistan and others seeking asylum in Europe en route to better life have our best wishes for peace and security.

Refugees from war-torn countries need help. It is for humanity to welcome them. They should have the right to safe and legal routes to sanctuary. Politicians have to decide what to do about refugee crisis. They have to agree to a fair plan to help the people fleeing their countries to safety.

One of the greatest human tragedies is mass exodus of people from their homelands. There may be natural causes of forced migration. The man made causes are wars and politics of hate and violence, insurgency; religious extremism; sectarian divide; perpetual communal riots; terrorism and its consequences that negatively impact orderly and peaceful environment.

Characteristics of population, culture and political norms are another set of factors leading to forced migration. Partition of Indian sub-continent is an example that explains this perspective. Tensions had gone so high that Hindus and Muslims could no longer live together. Indian National congress leader Gandhi had to agree to the creation of the state of Pakistan-a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent.

The partition could have been peaceful but the British rulers had perhaps ignored the need for an orderly transfer of power to the two newly created states; Pakistan and India. Injustice was done (through a conspiracy as reflected in general perceptions and ground reality) violating the principle of partition (i.e. the Muslim majority population areas would form part of Pakistan). Some Muslim majority population territories were allocated to Hindu India without justification. Division of the Punjab and Bengal provinces and discriminatory decisions and action regarding princely states had escalated tensions. Kashmir as unfinished agenda of partition became a permanent bone of contention.

Indian held Kashmir is highly militarized, with over 100,000 Kashmiris have been killed and their families humiliated for their demand of the right of self determination, the right accepted through the United Nations resolutions. The partition had witnessed brutal killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children and families rendered homeless and deprived of property and all their belongings and associations. That was a mass Exodus.

Unprecedented transfers of populations or forced migration bringing in flood of refugees, was a first ever challenge for Pakistan to face. Those who fled violence and terror to safety had to be settled and rehabilitated in their new homeland.

Violence and fundamentalism of Hindu militants that had emerged to oppose the Pakistan Movement, has not ended long after the partition in 1947. Sadly that attitude and behaviour still persists. They destroyed Babri Masjidand continue to export terrorism. But they will have to accept our peace plan, loudly spelled out by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Narendra Modi should better focus on his promise of development for all and stop working on the hardline, polarizing agenda.

The writer is a former director NIPA, a political analyst, a public policy expert and an author.