For decades Pakistan has been home to refugees fleeing Afghanistan, but since military operations began in North Waziristan against militants, tens of thousands of Pakistanis have fled to Afghanistan to avoid the fighting. There are some 60,000 Pakistanis, more than half of them children, taking refuge in the Gulan camp, about 20 kilometers from the border in the restive Khost province. They are not safe here either. Khost and neighbouring Patika are the most dangerous provinces of Afghanistan. De-miners probing the ground around the camp have unearthed antitank mines and other unexploded shells. This only adds to the 750,000 Pakistanis who have been displaced after the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. These numbers are too high and there is no national discussion about the safety of these people, and the resettlement of the IDPs. Its almost like the state is glad to have had a burden of 60,000 lifted. But these are our people, and as a country, Pakistan is not taking responsibility for their safety. A high number of households headed by women are found in the Afghan refugee camps as men seek work elsewhere.

The UN has predicted that the flow will not stop, and put the figure at 750,000. Refugee agencies said in November last year that they hoped to avoid a situation where tent camps became more permanent, creating a situation of dependence for refugees. But this has come to pass. Shortfalls in funding also means there is not enough to provide a tent for each refugee family.

The additional risk is that while civilians have escaped across the border, insurgents have too. This will cause problems for Afghan security, and attacks on the border could well be blamed on Pakistani elements, even if Afghani militants are behind it. The refugee crisis will complicate the political situation. Though reports suggest that the people of Afghanistan have been welcoming to the refugees as their own scars and similar and not healed yet, relations between the governments could sour at any second, and they would have had Hamid Karzai still been in charge.

For now the Afghan police try to keep the peace, ensuring orderly queues at water trucks and registration desks as Pakistani children keep flooding into the camps. There are also detractors from these reports, people suggesting that these people are not Pakistani, but Afghans going back. Whatever the explanation one wants to accept, the Taliban and Haqqani network along with the TTP need to be eliminated so our collective humanitarian tragedy can end.