Immigrants always prove a huge burden over the economy of the country they migrate to and usually such people never get the status of first grade citizens in the countries they strife to settle in but in Pakistan the situation seems altogether different. Here the refugees enjoy all possible liberties and facilities and sometimes the refugees are so powerful that they seem dominating over the local population. At present in Pakistan, the term ‘Refugees’ is specifically used for the Afghan immigrants whose migration into Pakistan started somewhere in 1980 during Soviet war in Afghanistan.
According to various survey reports more than 2.6 million Afghan refugees were living in Pakistan by the end of year 2012. Most of them were living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Northwestern Balochistan. In 2013 Pakistan was home to an estimated 2.6 million Afghans and among these 1.7 millions were registered refugees and the rest were living undocumented and unaccounted for along the two countries’ shared border. There are two categories of the Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, the registered ones and the unregistered ones.
Though the government of Pakistan is providing all possible help and support to the registered refugees in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees but the actual problem is these refugees living in Pakistan without any information and registration. Such illegal Afghan Refugees have become a painful burden on the limited resources of Pakistan. The government of Pakistan had been continuously requesting the Afghan government to make proper arrangements for repatriation of these refugees to Afghanistan but this request was never taken serious.
`However a tripartite agreement was signed in 2003 between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees which held the UNHCR responsible to assist the repatriation of Refugees who wanted to return until 2005; later, the agreement was extended to March 2006 and then to December 2006. At present the final date for the repatriation of Unregistered Refugees to Afghanistan is 31st December 2015.
In the first week of this January, a high level meeting on policy recommendations for repatriation and registration of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan decided that there will be no extension in deadline of return of Afghan refugees beyond 31 December 2015. The meeting also decided that those refugees living in urban areas will be sent back to refugee camps and for this purpose new sites for refugee camps will also be established.
Illegal and unregistered Afghan refugees are creating a lot of problems for Pakistan regarding terrorism and law and order situation. There are countless people who claim to be Afghans but in fact they are not. Every day hundreds of Afghan people cross the Durand Line without any papers or permission. Since these Afghans have a lot of resemblance with the local people living in Pakistani area along the Durand Line, it becomes very difficult for the law enforcement agencies to put a check on them. These illegal ‘trespassers’ so many times try to settle themselves in refugee camps also. The situation is becoming grave and serious day by day. When the law enforcement agencies take any action against such illegal refugees, the government of Pakistan has to face a lot of resistance and opposition from the so-called human-rights organizations. These organizations defame the government of Pakistan by blaming that the Afghan refugees are being harassed by the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan in the name of the National Action Plan.
A spokesman of the Ministry of Interior has recently rejected all such blames and allegations by saying that in line with the tripartite agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR, no action is being taken against any Afghan refugee, all legal action is against those individuals who do not possess CNICs or other document which can authenticate their antecedents. Pakistan has always been very helpful and supportive to Afghanistan and the Afghan nation. It has no ill-will or grudge against any Afghan national, but at the same time it is the right of the government of Pakistan to keep a vigilant eye on those who are involved in terrorist activities either they are from Afghanistan or any other country.