Afghan refugees’ repatriation


By pushing the Afghan refugees out of the country, government has affected the social fabric of a community, and has become responsible for disintegration of a large number of families in those areas where intermarriages among nationals of Pakistan and Afghan origin have taken place. A majority of cases of intermarriages are reported in Mardan, Charsadda, Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi, Upper and Lower Dir in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and some parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). In the past, federal governments have extended the legal residency deadline for registered Afghans multiple times. However in June 2016, the federal government extended the stay for registered Afghan refugees for six months — till the end of 2016 with no intent of further extension. After this announcement, the process of Afghan refugees’ repatriation from Pakistan has accelerated as more than 20,000 Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan in the months of July and August 2016. Reportedly, 1.5 million Afghan refugees have legally been living in Pakistan while a similar number has illegal domicile in different parts of the country.
The incidents of terrorism and alleged involvement of Afghan refugees in criminal activities are being cited as main reasons for the ongoing repatriation of the Afghans in Pakistan. Government asserts that unregulated cross-border movement of refugees provides an opportunity to terrorists to move freely between the two countries. Pakistan must desist from adopting rushed solutions for sending the displaced population back to Afghanistan. It must take stock of the consequences of this policy decision on Afghans that have families and businesses in Pakistan. Countless Afghans fled violence, persecution, ethnic cleansing and genocide as a result of regional proxy conflicts in Afghanistan throughout the 1990s. Afghan refugees live as an alien community despite being registered as displaced people who merely seek shelter in Pakistan, their neighbouring country. Many among them have been living here for many years, and are contributing to the economy of Pakistan positively.