Independence Day: We are Pakistanis now, say Afghans

Published: August 15, 2011

Afghan refugees celebrate country’s independence with fervor. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KARACHI: Usually in Ramazan, the shopkeepers in the narrow streets of al Asif Square listen to the recitation of Quran and naats. But on Sunday their little stereos blared patriotic songs.

Muhammad Ali, 27, a mobile seller likes to be called a Pakistani. His family hails from the Lugar province in the southeast of Kabul, but he was born and raised here. “I love to be called a Pakistani,” he said. “I opened my eyes in Pakistan and I grew up here.”

Muhammad Jan, 61, migrated from Mazar-e-Sharif, in Balkh province, 22 years ago. He said although he was too old to pin a badge of the Pakistani flag on his chest, but his grandchildren celebrate it. Last year, Jan visited Lugar, his hometown in Afghanistan but Pakistan is his home. “I do not want to leave,” he said. “I am happy here.”

Haji Abdullah Shah Bukhari is the chairman of the Afghan Mohajir Jirga in Karachi, and feels that freedom is precious. According to him, around 350,000 Afghan refugees live in Karachi. “We share the joys and sorrows of Pakistan as we live here,”he said. “The Independence Day is a day of happiness for both, Pakistanis and us.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (37)

  • bulbul
    Aug 15, 2011 - 10:12AM

    I do not agree…. There should have been a plan to send Afghan refugees back after Soviet invasion on immediate basis. We never needed their culture (heroine and Kalashnikov’s). It has done us enough damage over the years, it is almost like importing Taliban seeds to our society and to our beautiful KPK. Our society has suffered a lot because of them. One of the fruits we are bearing of Zia era.

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  • ngc
    Aug 15, 2011 - 10:58AM
  • Usman
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:25PM

    @ bulbul. Its not the Afghans who have brought the Taliban to us. It was us who gave them the gift of Taliban.

    They work without rights and are regularily abused. We should develop a proper policy of providing them with Pakistani Citizenship so that they can contribute to the economy.

    If we can give Pakistani Citizenship to “George ka Pakistan” why are we afraid of giving it to these guys who were born and grew up here?

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  • Neha Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:37PM

    No please, we would like these Afghans to go back to their homes. We have suffered enough because of them. Plus, I had the opportunity of visiting Afghanistan and was shocked to see the amount of hatred they have for Pakistan. No wonder there is an old saying, ‘Fear those with whom you do good’.

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  • Shahzain
    Aug 15, 2011 - 1:45PM

    beautiful picture

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  • Sarcastic
    Aug 15, 2011 - 2:56PM

    @Usman, excuse me but you have got your history completely wrong. All Talibans are made up of Afghan Pashtun tribesmen. It is Afghan culture to carry Ak 47s; have you ever seen Ak 47 in Pakistani culture? If you put an Afghan child next to a Pakistani child, it is more likely that the Afghan will be carrying a gun while the Pakistani child will have a textbook in his hand. Opium culture is also a product of Afghanistan. Tribal conflicts and wars are once again, part of Afghan history. Putting the Taliban blame on Pakistan is pointless and lacks meaning.

    You should check the attitude of Afghans by the way. The overwhelming majority are hostile and cant stop crying over the fact that Peshawar and Khyber P are part of Pakistan. EVen today, most dont recognise the Afg-Pak border. If they want to continue living in our country, continue taking up jobs and education, and continue eating food (which they cant get in their own country anyway) they should at least have the guts to pay some respect to their host country.

    Once again, I’m not the one pushing this propaganda. Just read your history and get your facts right when it comes to the Afghan attitude. All this “we are Pakistanis now” is fake BS. They know they want to live here because their country wouldnt offer them quality of life or be as progressive even in next 200 years.

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  • Aug 15, 2011 - 3:17PM

    My heart aches for him. Hats off to Pakistan for taking care of these refugees!

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  • M Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 3:32PM

    @Usman:
    Dude which side of the border you belong to? No one in their right mind would ever say such thing … The first Talib was born when these Afghan took guns in their hands against their own government in late 1970s … and then after Soviets left they started civil war and couldn’t run their own country… We already have 180 Million population we do not require their workforce We don’t need such pathetic advices. They should go back and contribute to their economy so the region stabilizes.
    No one wants these Millions of parasites to be living on our back any more .. Enough is enough but unfortunately, our leaders are spineless and army is delusional and myopic at the same time … I am from Peshawar and when they came here few decades ago due to situation in their country every afghan family had family members abroad and would bring money back and the rest got money besides getting money from heroin which they are no 1 producer in the world thus all our businesses went in their hands … All our markets are own by them in Karkhano Market, Peshawar Cantt, University Road and in most of main markets in city they took over businesses with that money while we are sitting and watching helplessly … They brought anarchy to our country without contributing any thing in tax or education. The Taliban w

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  • Usman
    Aug 15, 2011 - 3:46PM

    Yes guys another piece trivia

    At present Pakistan Citizenship Act allows a foreigner girl marrying a Pakistani man to get Pakistani citizenship but not vice versa. NICE!!!

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  • Usman
    Aug 15, 2011 - 4:19PM

    @ M Khan. Yes im from Peshawar too. I think you are just jealous that a few of them are rich and have established businesses. Maybe you have an eye on one of their businesses for when they leave. Or maybe you just dont like “filthy” poor people in your city .

    The Afghans who were dirt poor and were treated worse than animals by everyone have already gone back home. Kabul is now a safer place to live in than Peshawar. Most of the Afghans left in our country are the ones who have established some sort of businesses here and will definitely contribute to the economy if they are naturalised.

    And please get you facts right. It was the Soviets who ruined there life first. And then it was Pakistan with their grand designs of reaching Central Asia. Pakistan taking full advantage of Afghanistan which was battered by a war with a superpower. And please also remember that if it were not for their brave resistance you would have now been reporting to Moscow.

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  • Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 5:32PM

    @Usman:
    We gave citizenship to George Fulton aka “George ka Pakistan” because he earned it and he didn’t come via back door .. He is an educated individual and was promoting soft image of Pakistan besides contributing constructively to the society… while on the other hand you are comparing that individual with a burden of somewhat over 2 million refugees (were 5 million in 2001) living here from past 32 years without contributing to the economy or society rather eating up our economy and further stretching our resources.
    With their Heroin/poppy cultivation and foreign earned money as refugees, they could afford to buy our properties which increased the prices many fold making it impossible for 80% of our population in the north west to buy their only home … We were short of educational institutions and yet their children study for free or in private institutions because they can pay more … which deny a chance to our own kids… We have just one doctor for thousands of patients yet they have been using our hospitals freely. Besides all this, demand in all daily commodities has increased which puts burden on not only the economy but also becomes driving force for price increase thus making it impossible for common poor man to afford any thing in a country where we need to control our existing high population growth let alone adding millions more to it.

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  • Aug 15, 2011 - 6:00PM

    Pakistanis over staying their visas in Europe, USA and other places throughout the world, have used various methods, including lying about being refugees, fake marriages, etc. to secure citizenships.
    It is only fair that we also give similar rights to refugees in our country.
    Two generations of Afghans have now been born in this country, for many Afghanistan being just a distant memory. They have contributed to society and are a law abiding community.
    Afghan children born here are more Pakistani than Afghans, and must be given Pakistani nationality.

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  • Aug 15, 2011 - 6:10PM

    @M Khan:
    Sad!

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  • Ray
    Aug 15, 2011 - 6:11PM

    They’ve settled here now, we simply won’t be able to catch all the Afghans and send them back – we obviously need a system whereby refugees are naturalised, and made to contribute to this economy; meanwhile, those who have been implicated in terrorism, drug-peddling et al should be deported.

    We definitely need to put a system of sorts in place.

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  • Pragmatist
    Aug 15, 2011 - 6:13PM

    The two nations must be merged to form Afpakistan. They two do have a lot in common.

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  • My Name is Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 7:28PM

    I’m from Peshawar too – we do not hate the Afghans. We hate violence regardless of who is the perpetrator.

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  • M Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 8:26PM

    @Pragmatist:
    And who exactly is going to merge them together You from India ? We are the people living there and its up to us what ever we want .. Please don’t confuse it with Kashmir.

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  • M Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 8:42PM

    @Usman:
    I am not jealous of any of them as my whole family and extended family is well educated (mostly from abroad) and well off (in fact I can name a couple of your ex Presidents and leaders used to be my family’s tenants in Peshawar including some in current government) … I my self live in England but live here while paying full taxes and working hard toward and contributing constructively toward this society unlike those refugees (like yourself).
    May be you are confused about your own history but we are not …
    The Soviets were invited by your own government AFTER your warlords were attacking them and once the government was weaken they had to invite Soviets for help .. Please enlighten us as to How has Pakistan taken advantage of Afghanistan? As it was a war started by Afghan themselves against their own government we ‘backed’ them sheltered them for 32 years .. You will not find a single other country in this whole world who will host 5 million refugees despite being poor. I don’t have a problem if the people you talk about are rich or super rich they can take all their trillions of heroin money back to their country and develop it with education and healthcare instead of killing each other but I do have a problem with them living just like parasites in our country for decades and then cursing and back stabbing us and going on shooting spree in our once safe streets.
    Despite all your ills we have never said we hated you but If we are to remove the ills in our society we have to address all issues including the refugees.

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  • M Khan
    Aug 15, 2011 - 9:01PM

    @DarkStar(Karachi):
    Mate … From every third world country people do over stay in develop countries but if you are to naively compare that with Afghan refugees then you have to consider a few facts too … In all of those European countries they have Border agencies who’s duty is to find these people… raid those businesses who employ them and repatriate them to their native countries… In UK they show a special program on TV about it every week in which UK Border agency send their teams to raid different work places and catch these people. There is a £10,000 fine per person on employer if they get caught with any one working illegally. Besides those people are not in Millions in each country neither they go back and forth every single day.
    @Usman: IF we were treating them like animals then how come they have their houses and have set up businesses in our country and are living freely in all cities and going back and forth every single day? Have some shame please. How have we treated them poorly please elaborate a little when you are illegally living but still buying all businesses and properties worth multi million in posh areas … going to all our colleges and universities without paying any thing .. using our hospitals and health care for free ? And by saying a few of them are left behind you meant over 2 Million right ?
    If we treat you so bad how come you are still living in Peshawar as you said earlier and have access to computer & internet and be literate enough to be able to write and take part in a discussion here? What you say and do .. doesn’t match.

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  • Ali
    Aug 15, 2011 - 10:06PM

    @Usman:

    Because on Facebook and Youtube I still see them calling Afghanistan as their homeland and some even abuse fellow Pakistani starting with Punjabis and eventually the whole Nation.

    Thanks, but no thanks. we hope that you enjoyed your stay, time to go back.

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  • Ali
    Aug 15, 2011 - 10:12PM

    @Usman:

    Pakistan would be reporting to Moscow?

    Wrong again, had we Pakistanis not helped establish, group, organize the taliban they would’ve been extinct by now at the hands of the Russians.

    Feel free, you’re most welcome to keep them in your city Peshawar. We sindhis have our own economic problems to deal with.

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  • Aug 15, 2011 - 10:32PM

    @M Khan:
    Yet despite these raids, thousands of people are getting legalized. Millions of Pakistanis have attained citizenship.

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  • Jamali Mohajir
    Aug 15, 2011 - 10:46PM

    Pakistan is compassionate country. It understands what being a refugee is.. . Many Pakistanis were refugees from India at the time of partition. We welcome our Afghan brother and sisters who are now Pakistanis. Lets help them and support them and bring them in the main stream and not label them as refugee/mohajirs. They are now Pakistanis and desreve our love and compassion as they too have suffered a lot from this senseless war that has caused so much trauma to all. Welcome to Pakistan! May we all prosper together and may God Bless us all! Ameen!!

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  • Usman
    Aug 15, 2011 - 11:28PM

    @ M Khan. My dear I’m from KPK not from Afghanistan. We have a problem that among us we have racist people like you with delusions of grandeur and holiness.
    3.5 million refugees have already gone back from Pakistan to Afghanistan. There are 1.7 million refugees still in Pakistan who are all registered and will have to leave by 2012. Iran also took in 2.5 million refugees, of whom 1 million are still there. Ive never seen any Afghan showing hostility towards Iran.
    Pakistan is not the first country to accept refugees but is the only country where people gloat about it.

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  • Bangash
    Aug 15, 2011 - 11:57PM

    People of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are tired of these Afghans and wish foolish policy of strategic depth should end so that peace can return to Afghanistan and these refugees can go home.

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  • raza
    Aug 16, 2011 - 5:43AM

    Dear all.
    What about our own target killers, 9 mm culture, Boori band Lashain. and don’t forget that Taliban is a Pakistani product.

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  • Jamali Mohajir
    Aug 17, 2011 - 3:38AM

    Two generations of Afghanis means they are now Pakistanis. We need to be humans and understand human sufferings of the Afghan refugees that were traumatised and maimed by the senseless wars and bombings. It is the job of the Pakistani Government to help them and bring them in the main stream like any other Pakistani. Pakistan was made by the refugees. It was due to the sacrifices of the refugees (mohajirs) that made Pakistan and gave it independence. Today we are all proud Pakistanis. All ethnicities are the platform for this beautiful country called ‘Pakistan’. May we all live in peace and prosperity. Pakistan Zindabad!

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  • Umar
    Sep 1, 2011 - 8:46PM

    Let it be known that Pakistan now hosts the largest number of refugees in the world. That is there are 725 refugees per 1 RS. This no doubt has a major toll on the economy and infrastructure and can impede growth tremendously. Yes Pakistan is certainly not the only coutry housing refugees, but it is safe to say If anyone can gripe about it, it is Pakistan.

    Let it also be known that Afghans aren’t the only refugees housed in Pakistan. Refugees from Iraq, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and other countries in the surrounding regions take refuge inside Pakistan. Despite its many problems, Pakistan is known for its resilience and ability to make do with any circumstance….although times are getting worse, for the most part, refugees, working class and others can find food to eat at night in Pakistan. It is this fact on which we should base our decisions and treat our fellow humans with dignity and help them the best we can. Despite our economic status we are still all human. Yes we cannot support the Kalashnikov culture and we must promote education, but keep in mind there are extremists in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, not just one or the other

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  • ex
    Sep 2, 2011 - 4:52AM

    no your not. Refugees do not become local citizens just ask Palestinians living in South Lebanon

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  • Tariq Ahmed
    Sep 2, 2011 - 5:26AM

    To Usman, first Iran kept Afghans as animals in refugee camps, no afghani was allowed to live with Iranians or their children allowed to attend their school. If afghanis dont hate Iran it is because they are usually Dari speaking and share a language, it is the Darri Afghans who hate Pakistan, pashtuns are neutral. In any case, Pakistan has kept afghanis as nicely as possible, they have shared their homes, neighbourhoods, schools, everything with them like Muslims, but I too was shocked to learn how much hatred Afghans have for Pakistan, before this I always felt sorry for the Afghans, but now I feel them must go back and rebuild their own nation.

    Even Muslim countries like saudi Araboa etc dont give citizenship to any Muslim, including Pakistanis, no matter if they were born there and no matter how educated they are. Pakistan does not owe anything to afghans, they have taken over restaurant and cloth business in Pakistan and pretend to be Pashtun, they tell non Pashtun that they are Pashtuns from KP….they dont pay taxes, dont pay any revenue, are a burden on society and many afghans in Karachi are involved with land mafia. I have seen Afghan businessmen misbehave with Pakistani women, and they say things in their own language and there was a big fight in lahore where a Army officers wife was abused and she brought 50 soldiers and they beat the Afghan traders black and blue and they were begging for mercy. I have seem more crimes from these Afghans and we dont need it.

    When India came to play in Pakistan, Afghanis raised Indian flags all over stadium in Peshawer, this is their reality, in case of war with India, they will stab us in the back, it is their nature.

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  • Hamza
    Sep 2, 2011 - 5:53AM

    Yea its rite people heart never change they remain same for where they beong. And so does mine although i was born a half raised in Canada, but my heart and mind is always Pakistani…..It really pains me if i hear somethng bad happening to Pakistan…….Most Afghans have high hateredness towards us.

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  • Imran
    Sep 2, 2011 - 9:18AM

    There are so many Pro-Afghanis comments here. I do not have any problem with refugees, infact I believe in islamic brotherhood. The only problem is Afghani people hatred towards Pakistanis. When Pakistan gave them everything home, shelter, food, business then why hate the people of Pakistan.

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  • Ahmed
    Sep 2, 2011 - 12:05PM

    Who cares about this world, your goal should be to please Allah SWT. Afghans are our brothers, and for Pashtun Pakistanis, Pashtun Afghans are the same thing, speak the same language (Pashto) and have the same culture.

    Even if some want to hate Pakistan, fine, let them. Does not mean you can throw them out of Pakistan, esp if they are born here. Treat them with kindness, compassion, and maybe they will change their views, even if they don’t Allah SWT will reward you for your mercy.

    Islam teaches us that we should go above and beyond in our morality and character towards others, forgive and forget.

    Unless someone has been violent, then let them stay and give nationality to all the kids born in Pakistan.

    Many have well established business and lives in Pakistan, what use is it to make them leave?

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  • Ishtiaq
    Sep 2, 2011 - 1:11PM

    People should stop blaming others for their problems. At another level the situation in Pakistan is no different to what is happening in Europe/North America (immigration/refeugee problems)…..the only difference is the the non-muslim states treat the muslims better than the muslim states do! Something is not quite right there! As a Kashmiri who grew up in UK…I have found many Kashmiri and Pakistanis who still struggle to accept UK as their country – why? If M.Khan cares so much about Pakistan…than perhaps he should return back and help it beloved country?!!

    One more point, don’t forget who carried out the 7/7 terrorist act in London! I don’t recall them being Afganis!

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  • Wazir
    Sep 2, 2011 - 5:38PM

    @Ali:
    what you said is meaningless… If the Soviets made it past the Afghans, we would most assuredly been re-branded Pakistan SSR. Lets not kid ourselves… We never had what it takes to take on superpowers. The Afghans did.
    Peace.Recommend

  • Wazir
    Sep 2, 2011 - 5:42PM

    As far Afghan hatred for Pakistan, why shouldnt they. We have been ineptly and constantly meddling in their affairs for years. We played favorites through out the ninties, making the Taliban neccessary, then when Colin Powell makes a phone call, we cave in, in effect handing the country back to the bandits, drug barons and communist the Talibs fought.
    Afghans have every reason to view our government as malicious, conniving, craven and inept.

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  • Tariq Ahmed
    Sep 3, 2011 - 5:51AM

    To Wazir, you are wrong, the Afghans would never have defeated the USSR without Pakistans help, it was Pakistani soldiers who actually trained Afghans in the use of modern weapons and in fact Pakistani soldiers fought many battles, it was thousands of Pakistani mujahideen who fought alongside Afghans, so it was not like Afghans alone defeated the Soviets, if that was true why cant the Afghans beat the US and NATO today, because Pakistan is not involved.

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