Afghan refugees not being harassed
Mian Saifur Rehman
Islamabad has taken exception to the fabricated news items that have been recently released by design in which Pakistan has been accused of “forcing the Afghan refugees to take part in militant activities in Afghanistan, otherwise be ready to face harassment.”
One such report has been published during the current month in an Afghan newspaper Pajhwok Afghan News, attributed to Young Activists Network for Reform and Change (YANRC). The news item carried in ‘Pajhwok’ has urged the United Nations and other international organisations to clarify their stance over the current harassment of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
According to one of Pakistan administration’s senior functionaries who has requested anonymity, the said Afghan media report is based on malicious propaganda by vested elements. The source adds, “There is no harassment of Afghan refugees going on inside Pakistan and the Ministry of Interior has categorically directed the Law-Enforcing Agencies (LEAs) not to harass Afghan refugees at all. However, LEAs have intensified their efforts to check terrorists/ criminals for the implementation of National Action Plan to curb terrorism. LEAs take legal action against those individuals who do not possess CNICs (Computerized National Identity Cards) or other documents which can authenticate their antecedents. Afghan refugees were issued PoR (Proof of Registration) Cards valid till Dec 31, 2015.
As for any legal action taken by LEAs against certain individuals including Afghan refugees, this action is taken against only those persons who do not possess PoR Cards, as per law of the land. A large number of Afghans also cross Torkham/Chaman border on daily basis, without any proper system, which also include Afghan refugees who re-enter Pakistan after having crossed over to Afghanistan. Those having no PoR Cards are being identified for the purpose of their registration”.
As regards the Afghan newspaper report, YANRC spokesman Sayyed Maisam Ihsan had recently stated in a press conference: “Recent reports have shown that the government of Pakistan has forced Afghan refugees to take part in militant activities in Afghanistan, otherwise they will face the harassment.”
He said Pakistani security officials have been arresting innocent refugees from roads and streets and putting them behind the bars. He demanded that the Afghan government should take notice of the situation.
Ihsan also claimed that over 3,000 Afghan refugees had been deported from Pakistan and that their harassment was against international norms and agreement between the government of Pakistan and the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).
Earlier, the IOM in Afghanistan said that thousands of Afghan families were fleeing Pakistan to escape harassment after a deadly Taliban attack on Army Public School in Peshawar.
In a statement posted on its website, Richard Danzinger, the IOM’s mission chief in Afghanistan, said more than 22,000 undocumented Afghans flocked across the border at Torkham in January, more than twice the figure for the whole of 2014.
In January this year nearly 24,000 undocumented Afghans entered Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province through Pakistan’s Torkham border crossing.