A very famous saying is that a bad carpenter blames his tools, so we can blame the government, particularly the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa one for the Afghan refugees problems in Pakistan. A failure to control insurgency is blamed on the presence of Afghan refugees. Economic ills prevailing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is again attributed to them. In fact, right from the date of influx, of these refugees in 1979, wherever the police failed to trace any crime the blame would be apportioned on these migrants, without any proof. Today, when a swoop is carried out against militants, the Afghan refugees, living legally under UN authorization or illegally like millions of Bengalis, Indians, Burmese, the target is only Afghans. Even those Afghanis carrying ‘Proof of Registration’ (POR) cards are let off after they grease the palm of police.

The refugees, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, are blamed for hijacking businesses. After the establishment of Afghan government, most of the middle and well to do class returned to Afghanistan or moved to the western countries; only those with little means, stayed behind. What degree of business can you expect from these rag tag people, except providing cheap labour or doing other menial jobs? In fact, the Afghan tycoons living in Afghanistan have been giving businesses to hundreds of thousands of Pakistani and police and custom officials, in the form of sale of smuggled goods.

The markets in Peshawar, Rawalpindi, and towns in between are brimming with foreign goods, otherwise destined for Afghanistan but unloaded in the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham, with the connivance of Pakistani government officials. Besides Pakistani businessmen and police and custom officials, the availability of these smuggled items, gives solace to buyers, particularly the wives of well to do families for exploiting opportunity to fulfill the dream of using foreign goods. If a meager number of Afghans, not refugees, have established big business in Pakistan, are they not the foreign investor, which Pakistan’s dying economy badly needs?

In all incidents of insurgency that has taken place in Pakistan, not a single Afghan refugees has been found, then how come their presence in Pakistan is tagged with worsening law and order situation? The attackers on President Musharraf, Naval Base, Kamra Complex, GHQ, ISI establishment were home grown Pakistanis or Uzbeks. These days efforts are being made to woo the Ashraf-Ghani led Afghan government to establish friendly and helpful relations with Pakistan by the visit of trio Pukhtun leaders, COAS, DG ISI, President, PM to Kabul. However, these efforts are nullified when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passed a resolution, asking Islamabad to immediately repatriate Afghan refugees, without taking into account that they are permitted to stay till the end of the year, under agreement with UN. Then why drive a wedge in the yet to grow friendly relations with Afghanistan? Both the government and the people of Pakistan need to change their hostile stance towards the unfortunate Afghan refugees, to draw support of Afghan government in curbing terrorism.


Peshawar, January 12.