About six million Afghan refugees fled to Pakistan and Iran since the start of the Afghan war, making Afghanistan the largest refugee-producing country in the world, a title it has held for 32 years. The life of these people has been hard to say the least, especially now since the Government of KPK has started a mass scale deportation of these people, apart from public harassment of the community. Nearly 1.5 million officially registered Afghan refugees were reported to be living in Pakistan in 2013, in addition to approximately one million more illegal refugees. From 2005 to 2006, the Government of Pakistan completed a registration process of all Afghans living in the country. By 2007, 2.15 million Afghans were all issued computerized ‘proof of registration’ (PoR) cards with special biometric features noting that they were Afghan Citizens. In July 2012, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions of the Government of Pakistan declared that all Afghan refugees would be repatriated from the start of 2013. Afghanistan’s Minister of Refugees and Repatriation announced that his ministry would establish 48 towns in Afghanistan for the returning refugees from Pakistan and Iran with the cooperation of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees. However, there is a lot of slip between lip and cup as the situation is of serious concern with regards to the rights of refugees. The New York Times reports mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Pakistani camps, with some forced out if they couldn’t pay the police. Human Rights Watch has also raised an alarm on the issue of harassment. Are we creating another minority group to be targeted?

The Home and Tribal Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has ordered all commissioners and DIGs to expel Afghan clerics from the province under the National Action Plan. These people have been living in Pakistan for thirty years. What makes them more dangerous to Pakistan than a Pakistani cleric from the same area? In a high profile case, the Afghan girl famously photographed by Steve McCurry for the National Geographic cover, has been given a CNIC ‘mistakenly’, causing trouble across NADRA, and opening up a debate about the rights and treatment of Afghans living in Pakistan. She has been living in Peshawar for most of her life.

Illegal and non-registered immigrants by any law are deported. However, many refugees don’t want to be registered as refugees, and would like to live under the radar because the Pakistani government wants them to leave anyway. Illegally getting a CNIC is the only way to stay here and not have to leave homes, jobs and families. On a more humane level, what is a person to do? It is already hard enough to find jobs, travel or get an education as it is, and doubly so for these orphaned citizens. Sadly, one does not get to choose their nationality, an accident of birth.