According to reports, over than 60,000 people from Afghanistan manage to cross over illegally into Pakistan through the porous Pak-Afghan border daily. The numbers are so staggering that the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul has suggested to the Foreign Ministry that it review the visa policy with Afghanistan. Multiple visas of around 2,000 to 2,500 applicants are issued on daily basis for Afghans intending to visit Pakistan. Pakistan is the only country that grants multiple visas to Afghans and that too without any charges. This makes it easier for the majority of the “tourists” to disappear once they get into Pakistan.

In order to discourage the illegal entries into Pakistan from Afghan, the government should take a more practical stand, other than just complaining about it. The border must be sealed. Afghanistan is not a friendly country, nor has it ever been a help to Pakistan while Pakistan has always given sanctuary to Afghani war victims.

Apart from the many Afghans that enter Pakistan without any travel documents, around 52,000 people cross the border showing ‘Refugee Cards’ or Proof of Registration (PoR) cards to the border security forces as the document to enter the country. The ideal situation would be that these refugees, eventually, with help of the UN Refugee Agency would be repatriated. However, this is becoming more and more unlikely, given the dearth of resources and housing to host them and the UN announcement that it will wrap up its refugee support operations in Pakistan.

The government is trying to find a solution. They have proposed that multiple visas should be denied to Afghan tourists. Secondly, a refundable security deposit should be taken from applicants, to ensure they go back to Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan hundreds of glum, anxious men start lining up after midnight outside the government passport office, clutching documents in plastic folders. By 7 each morning, when the agency opens, the line of passport applicants has grown to over 1000, determined to leave the country to find a job, any job, in whatever country they can reach.

It is an admirable task, to host refugees, ones that are not safe in their own country, but at what cost? Are we entirely sure, who is actually a refugee, who is a militant, and how is an opportunist? The Afghani government and its people blamed Pakistan for its ills. Yet a vast number of them would like to settle in Pakistan. Pakistan has been as humane as it is possible for a state to be, but the Afghani leadership needs to take a through look at itself in the mirror- its people live in terrible poverty and insecurity. Pakistan is their only hope; their own country is not.