Pakistan Must Stop Scapegoating Afghan Refugees

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The caretaker government of Pakistan seeks to expel over 1,700,000 Afghan refugees out of the country. However, it gets worse. Recently the Balochistan caretaker information minister announced that even those Afghans with legal documents would be expelled.

In a recent column, author and nuclear scientist Pervez Hoodbhoy wrote, “Once these unfortunates cross the Torkham border, hell awaits them. Large numbers have never visited, much less known, the famine-stricken land to which they allegedly belong. Hundreds of thousands were born on Pakistani soil but could never acquire documents. Pakistani authorities gave but 30 short days to sell off possessions acquired over a lifetime, decreed that only Rs50,000 per family could be carried in cash, and forbade evictees from taking along their livestock. Who could be more heartless?”

According to Hoodbhoy, “to cover up the establishment’s past incompetence and complicity, hapless refugees are now being scapegoated. They are victims of Pakistan’s bungled foreign policy and its delusionary pursuit of strategic depth. The days of dollar-fuelled ‘jihad’ being over, these penniless people are no longer useful as cannon fodder. Rich Afghans, of course, may stay. Had Pakistan ever been serious about wanting to destroy TTP’s ideologically charged terrorism, it would have looked for places where the call to ‘jihad’ is loud and strident.”

In conclusion, Hoodbhoy advises, “Afghans in Pakistan must be dealt with as per universal norms that respect human rights and dignity. At a very minimum, those born in Pakistan must be declared Pakistani citizens with rights equal to the rest. For this, the documentation process must be simplified. Girls and women must not be forced back to suffer at the hands of misogynist rulers. Individuals at high risk must be given asylum, not deported. Nothing less is acceptable.”

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