Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Monday labelled the Afghan refugee camps within Pakistan, as “safe havens” for terrorists after the country’s military establishment dismantled the militants’ infrastructure in tribal areas. He expressed the unease of the Pakistani government as well as that of the people over the effects of having a highly porous and unregulated border with Afghanistan. Pakistan may have reclaimed FATA from the clutches of terrorists, but as long as the Afghan border remains unfettered, terrorism will continue to trickle in Pakistan and this is not an acceptable scenario any more.

The Afghan government formally requested Pakistan last month, to give a four-year extension to the 1.5 million registered refugees in order to legalise their stay till 2020. Pakistan, which is hosting more than three million documented and undocumented Afghan nationals, has been more than generous and has granted stay to the registered refugees since 2009 on the request of Afghanistan. It is time that Afghanistan takes responsibility of its citizens instead of extending its role of avoiding its problems till Pakistan reaches the end of its limitations.

The government only authorised law enforcers to begin the crackdown against undocumented Afghan nationals after the country was ripped apart due to terrorism. Deportation is a natural consequence for those who are living illegally in any country, regardless of the fact that they have built their lives here for decades. As harsh as that may be, there is a reason that immigration laws and legal formalities exists; they help to ensure national security.

While it would be unfair to paint entire communities with a revolting term like terrorists, these impoverished refugee camps have been susceptible to terrorist infiltration because they were implicitly accepted by the government but not given any support. This only served to create a safe space where plans could be hatched in safety. Repatriation is not an unjustifiable request and it should not be treated as such.