Three million Afghans to be expelled by December

Published: July 18, 2012

Ministry of states and frontier regions negotiating with Afghan agencies to ensure rehabilitation. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Authorities have declared that they are unwilling to extend the stay of almost three million Afghans residing in Pakistan beyond December 2012.

In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune on Monday, Habibullah Khan, the secretary for the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron), a body that deals with Afghan refugees, said that Pakistani and Afghan agencies are negotiating among each other on the repatriation of 2.7 million refugees.

Official statistics show that 1.7 million Afghans residing in Pakistan hold legal documents issued by local authorities. While around one million are residing here without any legal documentation.

It is reported that authorities are planning to launch a crackdown to expel all illegal refugees that the country hosted for over three decades.

“One million illegal refugees would be treated under the Foreign Act of 1946,” he said. “We plan to expel all the illegal refugees from the start of next year…there is no way that we can extend their stay here.”

Pakistan and Iran have been hosting refugees since the 1979 Russian invasion. The countries prepared a roadmap for the repatriation at a conference held in Geneva in May this year.

The three countries have been running the repatriation programme for Afghan refugees with the financial and technical assistance of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Statistics show there had been a consistent decline in the number of individuals returning to Afghanistan under a programme of voluntary repatriation assisted by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). As many as 4.6 million Afghan refugees have been repatriated under the programme since it started in 2002.

The registered population living in Pakistan comprises 52.6% males and 47.4% females. Eighty-five per cent Afghans are Pakhtuns hailing from Nangarhar, Kabul, Kunduz, Logar, Paktia, Kandahar and Baghlan areas while the rest are Uzbeks and Tajiks.

Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa (K-P) hosts the largest of the refugee populace estimated at around 62.1%, followed by 20.3% in Balochistan, 11% in Punjab, 4.2% in Sindh, 2% in the federal capital and 0.4% in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

The official figures revealed only 40.6% Afghans live in the villages or camps set up for the refugees while 59.4% are settled across Pakistan in both the rural and urban areas and earn livelihood through means other than funding by the United Nations.

In a survey conducted, 56% of the returnees are reported to be Pakhtuns. 26% of the refugees prefer Kabul as their most favoured destination followed by 20% who opted for Nangarhar.

According to Khan, Pakistan would allow students, vulnerable persons like unattended widows and orphans and some businessmen to stay here on their visa until they finish their pressing assignments.

Khan added that the Afghan authorities have expressed willingness to receive as many refugees from Pakistan as they can and hoped most would be leaving the country within the given deadline.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2012.

Reader Comments (39)

  • HH
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:34AM

    Horray!!!! this is a great decision that should have been taken years ago….

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  • Abbas
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:47AM

    It’s sad, but we’ve suffered a lot from Afghan refugees. Crime rates and the prevalence of drugs in our society have risen exponentially with the arrival of these refugees, and I think those who came in illegally should be sent packing. Our state can’t take care of its own people, let alone illegal aliens. Afghanistan is not much worse than Pakistan these days as it is.

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  • Mo/CA
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:48AM

    thank God for the government to do this finally. Many have come and said to do the same, lets see if we can trust PPP, ANP to actually do this. Just the mere fact that we have so many illegal refugees speaks volume- although not all are a menace, we as a state need to serve our own people first before we can take care of our neighbors.

    They should have been sent back as soon as the afghan war had ended. Anyways better late than never!

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  • abdullah
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:49AM

    v shuld think before expelling them .how will they earn in afghanistan..and the result will be bad..i am not an afghani but being a human we should think about it..

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  • send them to shining India
    Jul 18, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Long overdue, however considering the brotherly relationship between Afghanistan and our great India, we will accept them with open arms so that they do not cause additional burden on there ravaged country.

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  • Zulfiqar Baig
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:01AM

    Pak Authorities will take money and will remain silent again. This is just slogan.

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  • Muhammad Hassan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:09AM

    They should never have been allowed in the first place.

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:23AM

    Why the word ‘expelled’ is being used here !!?? they are not expelled they are sent back to their own home country.

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  • Jul 18, 2012 - 10:42AM

    Ooops! No muslim for muslim n brotherhood here? Where is jamate islami?

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  • SAM
    Jul 18, 2012 - 10:53AM

    about time !!!!

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  • Awans
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:00AM

    This is absolutely unfair for any person who is born and bred here in Pakistan. The government should make a new rule that anyone who will born in Pakistan will have full right to get Pakistani Citizen Ship but it could not be dual as A person would be either a Pakistani Citizen or an Afghani Citizen If any Family that came from Afghanistan after so many Years want to integrate then give them full rights to be a Pakistani as these types of rules would lead to discrimination and nothing else.

    For example in my region of Chakwal there are three Afghan Families who are our neighbors and their children have learnt local languages and their children have been integrated with locals as they speak and talk in local languages and for me they are as Punjabi as I am as they speak, talk and live like us so In my view they have full right to stay here after a successful integration and no one have a right to expel them.
    The new world is all about Integration not segregation.

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  • Ahmad Shahid
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:02AM

    Every decision in this world will posses some pros and corns but the fact is that the Afghans in Pakistan with no documentation cannot be traced and cannot be observed like others so the govt. should have asked them to get them documented properly otherwise they will be sent back to their home country while other Afghans with proper documentation should not be pressurised.Lets see what happens but its a positive step at the end of the day.

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  • T
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:30AM

    I am all for the rehabilitation of refugees but the word ‘expel’ should not be used here. Pakistan needs to get the UN, US and NATO involved in the process so that these people can have a decent living once back home and can stay there instead of coming back.

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  • mateen
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:42AM

    YEAH!!! Finally:) So, happy to read this…

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  • Iqbal
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:55AM

    My request from our brothers who are either in Pakistan or in Iran to come back and do server your country. I also request the Afghan government to find ways for their settlement and create for them job opportunities. It would also help a lot in the peace and stability of the country because a large chunk of them are being used for the vest interest of others. We are also very thankful to the people of Pakistan and Iran who give them shelter for three decades very patiently.

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  • Pir Ali Khan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 11:58AM

    Be respectful , tolerant, humane and Kind to these people who had to immigrate because their country had been continuously under occupation of Two superpowers one after and other. We should be using soft words not words Like Expelling . This is a very degrading word. This should never be used for refugees who comes from the war zones. These people need kindness they are already lost what they had at home by the hands of the occupation forces., They are peaceful people and most Afghan brothers are. There are always bad elements and they are among Pakistanis too. For example Present Govt. elites who came to Power as the result of NRO, are the real Ghaddars who serve somebody else’s agenda. They are in power and do more harm than any other can do. Refugees should be kept and treated with care and Kindness and when the war is over, they must be given incentive to return to their county but should not be expelled. Lear from western nations who give refuge to many Pakistanis who flee Pakistan and even grant them citizenship.

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  • A J Khan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 12:08PM

    UNHCR is holding these refugees hostage to their interests. They have jobs, funds and lot of facilities. They will never let them go.
    It is a big booming business next to kidnapping for ransom shared jointly by the Pakistani bureaucrats and the UN officials.

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  • Truth Bites
    Jul 18, 2012 - 1:52PM

    This whole thing is let to out of hands now, wonder how will they find them who are well settled in Pakistan not in refugee camps. I dont think this will ever happen. Pakistan need to come up with a solution with UN and Afghan government to make smooth as possible. work expelled is definitely harsh! I also beleive there is no dual nationality agreement between Paksitan and Afghanistan, that has to be looked up again. Children born in Pakistan and wish to stay Pakistani, they should be given a fair chance.

    on the same note, I am yet to see a single Afghan who apperciate Pakistan. Most of them hate Pakistanis and Pakistan. Some even consider half of Pakistan inlcudind Karachi is part of Afghanistan and Pakistan is occupying it.

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  • RS
    Jul 18, 2012 - 2:03PM

    1stly, it’s about time that government took proper step for the welfare n security of it’s own people. 2ndly, reference to Awan n Pir Ali Khan comments a.Refugees are displaced people n asa their home country living environments become suitable their going back n help their home land development takes priority than living hopelessly in another country. Child born in a refugee home, by a refugee family does not extend the applicable law of citizenship. To our friend Pir Ali khan the reference you quoted does not apply in this case n examples you gave are not suitable. Countries who do extend such privileges n to certain people or category of individuals also do not apply in this case. These refugees are unfortunatly come in displaced category their life or property is not in danger nor they have political problems with their home country. Actually, we should pray for their safe return n hope they will never forget generosity, love, care, freedom, opportunities n hospitality they enjoyed during their stay in Pakistan.

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  • Zeeshan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 2:21PM

    This is a tragic decision. Let them stay, Pakistan is also their homeland.

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  • zeeshan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 2:23PM

    best news ever!

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  • AN
    Jul 18, 2012 - 3:15PM

    Sorry to dis-appoint Zeeshan, Pakistan is NOT Afghan refugees country – their country name is Afghanistan (just for your information n clarification).

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  • Vikram
    Jul 18, 2012 - 4:58PM

    @Zaid Hamid:
    All Muslims are brothers and sisters only if Pakistan can make money from them. Pakistan did a big favor to Afghanistan by creating talibans to make Afghanistan an Islamic country. Now these refugees should pay back by helping Mullah rule Pakistan..

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  • Vikram
    Jul 18, 2012 - 5:04PM

    @T:
    I thought Muslims are big on Zakat and Interest Free loans, why not involve arabs with billions of dollars in banks. All Muslims are brothers and sisters. Pakistaan wants to expel brothers and sisters, why can’t rich Muslim countries for a change take some poor Muslims as immigrants.

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  • Vikram
    Jul 18, 2012 - 5:11PM

    @Truth Bites: “, I am yet to see a single Afghan who apperciate Pakistan. Most of them hate Pakistanis and Pakistan”

    Why do you think they do that? Pakistan played a big role in making them refugees. Pakistan created TALIBANS. Have you heard good and bad talibans?Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:12PM

    @Vikram,

    Indeed, Pakistan absorbed millions of Afghan refugees to “make money” and indeed Afghan refugees started because of Taliban.

    “Rich Muslim countries” have already taken millions of Indians into their lands. Should we substitute Indians with Afghans or will you cry racism when “rich Arab countries” do that?

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  • Khan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:36PM

    @Vikram:

    Why do you think they do that? Pakistan played a big role in making them refugees.

    I really hope you’re not a 12 year old as evident from your comments … Read some history before writing here .. It was the formation of a secular government in 1970s that was catalyst to this anarchy and the subsequent murder of Nur Taraki by Amin … Pakistan & US helped these rebels AFTER central government couldn’t keep its hold on power and asked USSR to send their forces till their expulsion in 1988.

    We believe it would be a fatal mistake to commit ground troops. [...] If our troops went in, the situation in your country would not improve. On the contrary, it would get worse. Our troops would have to struggle not only with an external aggressor, but with a significant part of your own people. And the people would never forgive such things” ”

    —Alexei Kosygin, the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, in response to Taraki’s request for Soviet presence in Afghanistan”

    Afterwards it was a civil war and political instability for next 5 years and till then there was no such group having a single talib.

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  • Amjad
    Jul 18, 2012 - 6:53PM

    @Awans: The Afghanis need to go to their own country and this time a big wall should be made between Afghanistan and Pakistan so they can’t come back. Pakistan has suffered enough from these Indian agents.

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  • Vikram
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:08PM

    @Khan: Terrorism history of Pskistan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4D9goJqQME&NR=1

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  • Ali tanoli
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:15PM

    @Awans,
    I agreed man they are now part of us even in Haripur Hazara they living since 1980 and speaks Hindko lang.

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  • afzaalkhan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 7:49PM

    The time to return them has passed majority are as much pakistanis as other pakistanis. Allow them to stay now via legal means. They are established now, give them choice.

    ET once again shame on you for using word “expelled” have some decency.

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  • Khan
    Jul 18, 2012 - 8:13PM

    @Vikram:
    Your link means nothing to me as your scope is again limited.
    You are just showing cases that started due to Zia & US involvement in the Cold war as most of those people are from other countries and not Pakistani born .. the reason they are traced to Pakistan is that they were brought in here due to those events taking place after 1979.
    The day we are able to fence our western border and evacuate all refugees will be the start of the society we had prior to Zia’s government.

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  • abdul karim
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:35AM

    @Naeem Siddiqui: I AGREE W/U ,

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  • take ethem in
    Jul 19, 2012 - 6:36AM

    @Vikram:
    Perhaps India should invite them to live in India considering the “brotherly” India/Afghanistan love story dating back to the 50z? Show your selflessness for once!
    Your humor is getting too played out and boring. Dont quit your day job.
    You should be glad that you enjoy more freedom on a Pakistani website than your own!

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  • Arijit Sharma
    Jul 19, 2012 - 2:06PM

    @take ethem in: ” … Perhaps India should invite them to live in India considering the “brotherly” India/Afghanistan love story dating back to the 50z? … “

    What happened to your Ummah ?

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  • Ahmee (Pakistani)
    Jul 19, 2012 - 5:04PM

    Better late than never, they should be sent to their country with wishes and prayers, i wonder how government can handle people with legal Pakistani residing documents NIC/Passport. Some of Afgans living in Pakistan are in a better state than most of Pakistanis, we should first address to our own needs and demands.

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  • A Reader
    Jul 19, 2012 - 9:03PM

    Had Pakistan not supported the mujahedin during their “jihad” against the communists, there would be no refugees.

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  • Mwaqar
    Jul 19, 2012 - 9:38PM

    I think its about time for Pakistan to say good bye to Afghan refugees,first of all there was no reason for Afghans to leave their country and take refugee in Pakistan,according to international law for refugees,Afghans never had status of refugees cause in Afghanistan situation was not like one had to leave their country during Soviet invasion,this was one artificial political situation created by anti-Soviet elements,during that time,Pakistani military dictator zia used islam and Afghan refugees for his illegal dictatorship,for supporting anti-soviet war,Pakistan is facing islamist fanatics today,religious intolerance,religious fanaticism and hate against minorities was introduced during zia era and Afghan refugees brought all kind of miseries to Pakistan.

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  • sabi
    Jul 19, 2012 - 11:18PM

    repatriation after over thirty years of stay.does not make sence.should be allowed to stay under law of naturalisation.and be given full rights.and we pakistanis should stop blaming afghans for every this and that .its very painfull and out of attequets.do’nt say it to others what you do’nt want to hear from others.give them respect and they will give you respect this is the only way forward.

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