It is often said that Karachi has even larger population of Pakhtuns than Peshawar has. Little we realise that millions of Afghans under the garb of local Pakhtuns have settled around the outskirts of Karachi and Hyderabad, and it is almost impossible to distinguish between Afghans and Pakhtuns.
For the last many decades, they have acquired Pakistani identity cards through various means. With that in hand, they move freely across Pakistan, buying land, making investments, establishing businesses and growing in numbers exponentially due to high birth rate in the community.
They are hardly identified as Afghans, for they speak the language and have the same culture as do Pakhtuns. Whenever an ugly incident happens, it is attributed to the local Pakhtuns, who also become a target of violence and hate for no fault of their own.
The most worrisome factor is that whenever any foreign power decides to destabilise Pakistan and wants to find an excuse to interfere in our national affairs, citing bloodshed and human rights violations, Karachi and Hyderabad become the focus of such propaganda because it is here that the Afghans have mostly settled. Some of these elements actually have hatred for Pakistan, which was evident from the hooliganism and violence against Pakistani fans at the recent Asia Cup that was held in Sharjah.
If there is ever a serious law and order situation, these Afghans will go berserk and merciless.
It is time to wake up and address this sensitive issue with the seriousness it deserves. The government must verify CNICs issued to such elements in the last few decades, and should cancel all cards issued to the outsiders. The government should at least identify them as Afghans and register them as refugees if it wishes to accommodate them in Pakistan.
NISAR AHMED BROHI