Repatriation pressures

Kabul and Islamabad must work together to find a workable solution

Since the abrupt Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan has served as a safe haven for Afghan citizens who have been forced to flee their country. The current situation is characterized by a concoction of instability, pervasive violence, and a dire humanitarian crisis that together create a precarious tableau. It is noteworthy that Pakistan’s refugee policy has changed, especially in light of recent events. Nearly 400,000 Afghans have been reported to have illegally crossed into Pakistan since the Afghan Taliban made a comeback in their home country in August 2021, which has made the problem worse. Additionally, a startling 700,000 Afghan nationals have been discovered living clandestinely in Pakistan without the proper legal permission.

In the dangerous crucible of the protracted Afghan conflict, which is marked by the unrelenting triad of death, destruction, and displacement (hereinafter referred to as the 3Ds), marked by the dichotomy of security and humanitarian considerations, takes root. However, Pakistan has made a significant policy change in response to domestic and geopolitical pressures, signaling its intention to repatriate a sizeable contingent of about 1.4 million Afghan refugees who have settled inside its sovereign borders without permission. Contextualizing this policy announcement in light of the simmering tensions between the neighboring countries is important, given its tangible repercussions.

Moreover, Pakistan has extended help on several fronts throughout this drawn-out engagement with the Afghan refugee crisis. In an effort to promote regional stability and political reconciliation, it has diplomatically offered its support to the newly established Afghan government. This selfless deed is a long-standing, decades-old aspect of Pakistan’s ethos rather than a recent development. But, the burdensome task of giving shelter, food, and a glimmer of hope to those refugees who have sought refuge within Pakistan’s borders has also been taken on by Pakistan, despite the country’s own resource shortages.

Despite the fact that the recent requirement to launch a rigorous crackdown on the high number of Afghan citizens living in Pakistan highlights a concerning reality. It seems that Pakistan is confronted with a situation that is getting worse and that it is unable to effectively handle. The majority of these undocumented Afghan residents do not uphold the rules of the law or maintain a low profile, upsetting the delicate balance of society by engaging in a variety of criminal activities. They have a negative impact on crime, which is demonstrated by the alarming total of 12,359 crimes against people that were committed in this particular year. These offenses include, but are not limited to, rape, sodomy, kidnapping, attempted murder, criminal intimidation, and violent acts against members of law enforcement or other government officials.

In the dangerous crucible of the protracted Afghan conflict, which is marked by the unrelenting triad of death, destruction, and displacement (hereinafter referred to as the 3Ds), marked by the dichotomy of security and humanitarian considerations, takes root.

It is necessary to reveal that groups of criminals with ties to Afghanistan actively recruit soldiers who are well-equipped with deadly weapons to fight for land-grabbing factions in exchange for astronomical sums of money, which frequently come with the ruthless assassination of their opponents. Many Afghan nationals resort to shady border crossings into Pakistan because they are unable to obtain official visas, which is mainly due to the Pakistani government’s tightening of visa requirements in recent years. In addition, there is a palpable air of dread surrounding many Afghan expatriates who are hesitant to return to their native country because of the Taliban regime’s documented history of violating numerous human rights.

In order to collaboratively unravel the current conundrum or, at the very least, outline a realistic course for resolution, Kabul and Islamabad must proactively convene a round-table discussion. As long as both parties demonstrate a shared commitment to eradicate the virulent threat of terrorism collectively and protect the welfare of their respective citizenry, it is possible to accomplish two goals with a single effort. The antecedent government’s law enforcement agencies and a large number of civilians continue to operate with some level of trepidation as a result of the turbulent aftermath of a protracted and bloody civil war.

Last but not least, a thorough analysis is required to resolve Pakistan’s Afghan refugee conundrum, which is mired in the complex interplay of security rights and humanitarian responsibilities. Policymakers are compelled to navigate perilous waters in their search for a lasting solution that respects the sanctity of human rights while preserving national interests and security imperatives because of the trajectory of this issue, which is supported by historical precedents and contemporary exigencies.

Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali
Nadir Ali is a Public Relations Officer (PRO) at Safe City Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected].


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