Pakistan allows Afghan refugees to stay for six more months

By AFP
Published: December 12, 2012

Afghan refugees wait at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registration centre on the outskirts of Peshawar before their departure to their home country. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday gave 1.6 million Afghan refugees sheltered within its territory the right to stay for another six months, extending a deadline on their residency papers that was due to expire at the end of December.

The decision was taken by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, according to a statement from his office. His spokesman confirmed that Afghan refugees would now be entitled to stay in Pakistan until the end of June 2013.

A spokeswoman for the UN Refugee Agency said Pakistan had promised not to expel any registered refugee.

“We got assurances from Pakistan that they would respect the voluntary nature of returns and would not expel any registered refugee,” Duniya Aslam Khan told AFP.

More than five million Afghans fled their homeland for Pakistan in the early 1980s, soon after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan.

Since the 2001 US-led invasion brought down the Taliban, 3.8 million have returned, leaving 1.6 million behind, most born and brought up in Pakistan.

In late October, UNHCR boosted incentives for Afghans to return and around 10,000 Afghans went home from October 23 to November 30 — more than double the number who were repatriated in the same period last year.

But despite pressure from Islamabad and the extra incentives, the vast majority of the Afghans still in Pakistan are reluctant to return to a country gripped by war and poverty.

Reader Comments (46)

  • Thinker
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:47PM

    Afghans will never say Thank You even you let them stay for 100 years. These people are strange.

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  • Much Amused
    Dec 12, 2012 - 7:47PM

    They will not return. Probability is they will disappear in Karachi, aided and abetted.

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  • Shame
    Dec 12, 2012 - 8:26PM

    Now why doesn’t the world realize this. Instead of begging in name of Malala, Government should tell the world about this and its consequences.

    And why American puppet Karzai always talks against Pakistan. I guess it is the time for them to understand who is who.

    Peace out!

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  • Muhammad Ahsan KHAN
    Dec 12, 2012 - 8:28PM

    According to Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951:

    “Section 4 – Citizenship by birth : Anyone born in Pakistan after this Act is a Pakistani Citizen”

    So, all those Afghans born and brought up in Pakistan are the sons/daughters of the soil.

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  • AnilAmbani
    Dec 12, 2012 - 8:30PM

    @ Thinker, Its always the fault of the “evil panjabis” with these guys. Why dont these “mighty, brave, warlike” (haha) afghans go and sort out the problems in their own country. Surely cant be a huge challenge to the greatest inherent warrior people known to man. :-)

    Send them on the next donkey back to Kabul. They hate our guts.

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  • Pakistan meri jaan :(
    Dec 12, 2012 - 9:04PM

    prepare for the worse then…

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  • Zalmai
    Dec 12, 2012 - 9:15PM

    Six more months of payments from UNHCR will go to corrupt authorities.

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  • Truth Detector
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:08PM

    Please send them to India since no one is their bigger well wisher & supporter against evil ‘Pakistani establishment’ than India. Indians will welcome them & will get opportunity to put their money where mouth is..

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  • Sterry
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:13PM

    @Zalmai: No one in Pakistan wants the pitiful amount of money the UNHCR gives. Let them give it to the drug lords in Afghanistan who will smuggle it off to UAE like they already do. No matter how corrupt Pakistani authorities, the world authorities know that the Afghani government is much more corrupt. It’s time for Afghanis to go back to Afghanistan and for the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan to be closed.

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  • Yousaf
    Dec 12, 2012 - 10:44PM

    Stop supporting the taliban and they’ll go back, simple

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  • shahid
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:04PM

    It is laughable, as they need any permission to stay in Pakistan. Any one can enter or leave from Afghanistan to pakistan any time.

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  • King of Pakistan
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:35PM

    Do you Pakistanis realize that all the Afghans have already left Pakistan and went back to their country years ago… the ones who are still in Pakistan are Pakistanis by birth and culture. They speak Urdu and their mind is full of Pakistan. You Paks are foolishly disrespecting your own people….

    Anyone who is Afghan and is living in Pakistan as a refugee is stupid because Pakistan has no electricity, no gas, no jobs, just a few people who live in Islambad and Lahore are rich while majority of Pakistan’s population live in poverty. In Afghanistan, each Afghan owns about 100 acres of land and the country’s economy and basic things are getting better every year. In the next 10 years, Afghanistan will be a great country. You will be going there for vacation. Most Afghans don’t hate Pakistanis, Afghans hate Islamic radical terrorists who happen to come from Pakistan. This gives Pakistan a bad name.

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  • sohail
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:37PM

    SEND THEM BACK SOON

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  • Zalmai
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:44PM

    @Sterry

    This is an excerpt from today’s edition of Tribune reporting on tax evasion in Pakistan. Afghans will never be able to beat Pakistan when it comes to corruption because it is entrenched and instilled in the Paki psyche from birth. It is part and parcel of being a Pakistani and your leaders starting from Jinnah to the current lot reek of corruption.

    Afghan refugees live in Pashtun lands that we consider part of Afghan territory so in essence they are still in Afghanistan and your dream of building a fence will remain a distant dream. Read the report outlined below and then think about the idiom people living in glass houses should not throw stones or the one about the pot calling the kettle black.

    More than 60% of Pakistan’s cabinet and two thirds of its federal lawmakers paid no tax last year, according to a report released Wednesday on tax evasion among the country’s political leaders.

    The study entitled “Representation without Taxation” by investigative journalist Umar Cheema takes Pakistan’s elected leaders to task for paying little or no tax despite an estimated average net wealth of $882,000.

    “The problem starts at the top. Those who make revenue policies, run the government and collect taxes, have not been able to set good examples for others,” said the report, likely to increase pressure on Pakistan to implement tax reform.Recommend

  • aisha azeem
    Dec 12, 2012 - 11:51PM

    What the HELL???Its high time these Afghans move back to their country and leave us alone,We have had a lot because of these people,now please let’s get out of this mess,let’s Change Pakistanis…

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  • Ammar
    Dec 13, 2012 - 12:08AM

    I am glad that Afghan’s are being asked to return to their country. They never will appreciate the sacrifices we Pakistani’s have made to accommodate them in cities such as Peshawar. No offense to Afghan’s, though now is the time to go back and build your country!

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  • Pakistani Patriot
    Dec 13, 2012 - 12:17AM

    @ Zalmai :- The city with the largest population of ethnic Pashtuns is neither Kandahar nor Kabul. It is as a matter of fact the city of Karachi. So back off with your baseless claims.

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  • Pakistani Patriot
    Dec 13, 2012 - 12:21AM

    @ Zalmai :- Even the Afghan refugees have integrated into the Pashto-speaking Pakistani population and consider themselves more Pakistani than Afghan. I am 100 % in favour of granting unconditional Pakistani citizenship to all those Afghan refugees who were born in Pakistan, or those who have invested substantial amounts of capital and helped the economy of Pakistan, or those who are fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, or those who have stayed in Pakistan for more than 30 years.

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  • Khan
    Dec 13, 2012 - 12:52AM

    @Zalmai:

    Six more months of payments from UNHCR will go to corrupt authorities.

    Ever since Red Army left this area Pakistan stopped receiving these peanuts … Remember UNHCR doesn’t pay to Pakistan but has their own offices in Pakistan and pay few hundred Dollars to those refugees who want to return .. despite the fact that every day 56,000 people cross that border without any checks .. thus they take then money and are back the next day. You being an Afghan refugee should know the fact that majority of these refugees have been living in settled areas in rented and owned houses so are not even counted as refugees.

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  • Khan
    Dec 13, 2012 - 12:53AM

    @Muhammad Ahsan KHAN:

    So, all those Afghans born and brought up in Pakistan are the sons/daughters of the soil.

    Ever heard meaning of word ‘Refugees’ ? These citizenship acts doesn’t apply to refugees any one with some common sense would know this before commenting.

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  • Khan
    Dec 13, 2012 - 1:08AM

    @Zalmai:

    Afghans will never be able to beat Pakistan when it comes to corruption

    For one to do corruption you need some form of infrastructural that you severely lack back “home” besides Kabalians do not need any corruption .. they have enough heroine money. From the excerpts that you provided, Its evident that at least 40% of parliamentarians paid taxes .. Tell me how many of your refugee brothers have paid any taxes here in the last 35 years despite being doing all sort of businesses freely .. I bet the answer is a big huge duck.

    Afghan refugees live in Pashtun lands that we consider part of Afghan territory so in essence they are still in Afghanistan.

    Well this is calling helping a beggar and getting robbed by him.. That land belongs to its native people and we are very happy the way we are. Be thankful if it was not for us giving you shelter you would be still living under the Red Army who your own leaders like Taraki begged to invade.

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  • Thinker
    Dec 13, 2012 - 7:08AM

    UNHCR pays Pakistan 2 rupees per refugee per year .it use to be 1 rupee per refugee till 9/11. There can be no other example of hospitality in the world like Pakistanis did for Afghans. Whether Afghans stay or go back to Afghanistan, they will have a connection with Pakistan. Today Pakistani embassay in Kabul everyday issues more than 2000 visas to Afghanis who want to visit Pakistan for various reasons. Afghans should integrate into Pakistano society and contribute. Pakistanis are good people.

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  • nathan
    Dec 13, 2012 - 8:39AM

    To expect Afghanistan to be grateful is being unrealistic. Refugees from Bangladesh did not make Bangladesh grateful to India. Same with Mexico – USA. The reverse perhaps is true.

    Whenever there is mass migration across borders due to war or natural calamities, the refugees should be segregated and monitored also given food and shelter so they can eventually be repatriated.

    Pakistan in an empty bravado, lack of administrative and financial competence and a quest for Pushtu votes allowed intermingling rather than set up refugee camps.

    Nathan

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  • Akshay
    Dec 13, 2012 - 10:50AM

    Since Afghans are Muslims and hence a part of Ummah, why they need permission to stay in “Islamic” republic? Doesn’t it mean that there is a dichotomy between Pakistan’s own view of an Islamic state and Pakistani nationalism? After all the Jewish state of Israel allows all Jews no matter what their nationality to live in Israel.

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  • Dec 13, 2012 - 1:16PM

    Afghans like Ghazni are your heroes and name your missiles after them, but don’t want poor, hapless Afghans to stay in Pakistan? What happened to the concept of Ummah?

    Pakistan was hoping it would influence Afghanistan in the future, but failed to notice how Afghanistan ended up influencing Pakistan now.Recommend

  • afghanistan
    Dec 13, 2012 - 1:55PM

    @Thinker:
    we would have been thankful if Pakistan hadn’t pursued STRATEGIC DEPTH policy. As an ordinary Afghan I am thankful of the people of Pakistan for their hospitality and as an ordinary Pakistani you would be welcomed in our country because more than 60000 Pakistanis work in our capital Kabul even in high rank jobs while no afghan have been allowed to find an official job in Pakistan. Instead we were pushed to build your deserts(Afghan camps). we afghans are very famous for hospitality and loyalty and mark my word that we will not hurt you in difficulty because our history has proved this. Mula omar was an afghan but he refused to handover his guest to US but you handed over their ambassador(mula zaeef) to USA.

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  • amir omani
    Dec 13, 2012 - 3:04PM

    @Truth Detector:
    dear first u control ur muslims thn gv thm shelter
    u r behaving like animals wd ur own muslim citizens and asking 4 afghanss

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  • Someone
    Dec 13, 2012 - 4:41PM

    @Zalmai: “Afghan refugees live in Pashtun lands that we consider part of Afghan territory so in essence they are still in Afghanistan.”

    An Afghan Pashtun from Kabul cannot just come to Peshawar and call it “home” – simply because his home is Kabul, not Peshawar. Similiarly, all Afghans in Pakistan are foreigners who are out of their homes and need to go back – or be kicked out. Beggars cant be choosers.

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  • Nowshera Pakhtun
    Dec 13, 2012 - 4:47PM

    @Zalmai who says: “Afghan refugees live in Pashtun lands that we consider part of Afghan territory so in essence they are still in Afghanistan.”

    There are 30 millions of us Pashtuns who live in Pakistan sir. You Afghan Pashtuns are not even 10 million. We are the majority. It is the majority claim that matters. Half of Afghan territory (pashtun lands) belongs to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Pakistan, not the other way around :)

    PS. I come from a Pakhtun city , Nowshera where there are many Afgan refugees. We have been kind to them and given them shelter but now it is time for you Afghans to go back to your “home” – which is not in Peshawar, Nowshera, Karachi, Mardan, etc. but in Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad etc, wherever you come from.

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  • Joke
    Dec 13, 2012 - 4:49PM

    @Zalmai: Even to do corruption, you need an infrastructure. You Afghans can forget the word “infrastructure” for the next century. Words like “stone age” might be more used in the Afghan dictionary

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  • Zalmai
    Dec 13, 2012 - 6:51PM

    @Joke

    “Even to do corruption, you need an infrastructure. You Afghans can forget the word “infrastructure” for the next century. Words like “stone age” might be more used in the Afghan dictionary”

    We have better infrastructure in Afghanistan today than Pakistan as a matter of fact 30,000 dark skinned Pakistani laborers were brought in to do menial jobs to build this infrastructure.

    @Nowshere Pakhtun

    Pakistan is made up of India and Afghanistan. Case closed.

    @Someone

    Afghan refugees are right at home anywhere in Pashto speaking lands.

    @Khan

    Red Army is better than your dark skinned wanna be Arab army and I am not a refugee and never lived in Pakistan, thank God.

    @Pakistani Patrtiot

    All those integrated Afghans that consider themselves Pakistani are foolish to think that way because Pashtuns in Pakistan are looked down upon across Pakistan and are treated as second/third class citizens. As far as Karachi being the city with the largest population of Pashtuns is concerned, I never claimed otherwise…what is your point.

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  • Amer
    Dec 13, 2012 - 7:15PM

    The fact of the matter is that time is running out for the Pakistan govt to act. The US will leave Afghanistan in 2014 and there would be civil war again, Pakistan would be left to pick up the pieces. It’s better that we start sending them back now so that we don’t have to deal with the situation so severly later on. We should have learned our leason after reading comments from people like “Zalmai” above. They bite the hand that gave them food and shelter for more then 30 years. I curse the Russians everytime I see a poor Afghan child picking rubbish on the roads of Karachi and curse Zia everytime I read comments like the one from “Zalmai”.

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  • Refugees & beggars
    Dec 13, 2012 - 8:07PM

    After reading comments by Zalmai, I am really starting to wonder where have American drones been going all that time. They’ve been missing some dangerous people who are in our midst :)

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  • Someone
    Dec 13, 2012 - 8:16PM

    @Zalmai: “We have better infrastructure in Afghanistan today than Pakistan as a matter of fact 30,000 dark skinned Pakistani laborers were brought in to do menial jobs to build this infrastructure.”

    What does having a couple thousand Pakistani Pashtun “dark-skinned” labourers (as you say) prove as far as infrastructure goes? Check your GDP, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone has a larger economy than your entire stone age nation put together.

    Oh and by the way, there are thousands of tanned-skin, bearded, unkempt Ak47 militant-looking Afghans who go around picking dump and doing other menial blue collar work. You’ll find more of them in Karachi alone than the 30,000 odd ‘dark-skinned’ Pakistani Pashtuns in Kabul you brag about.

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  • Blithe
    Dec 13, 2012 - 10:17PM

    Send them back and the acti- Pakistan ANP is
    welcome to go back them .

    They should jo there , did there and get buried over there .

    And we want NWFP back as the name of our province .

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  • Mardan
    Dec 14, 2012 - 12:36AM

    I am from Mardan and yes we have some Afghan refugees living in Mardan. In my own opinion if the Afghan refugees were not in Mardan then I believe now we would lost our language to a greater extent due to urdu dominance. It was actually the afghans who spoke the original pashto and some the originality I have learned from them for which I will be thankfull for ever. Pakistani pashtuns use to much urdu and english in their conversation and some of them don’t even know how to count in pashto. I have seen alot of pashto films of badar munir etc and they use rubbish language and their words are not even original. Pakistani pashtuns should realise this as when the afghans refugee are gone back we will also lose our language slowly.
    A dialogue from pashto film goes like, PA ROAD ACCIDENT WOOSHO AW PATIENT MU HOSPITAL YURU, now which part of that is pashto, then talk about afghan refugee……

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  • Zalmai
    Dec 14, 2012 - 1:54AM

    @Someone

    Correction, there are more than 60,000 Pakistani laborers and they are not Pashtun.

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  • khan
    Dec 14, 2012 - 3:34AM

    @Zalmai so according to you, I speak english, so going to any english speaking land is my home? so tomorrow if i go to london, i become english? they will never accept me nor will i fit in with them. I am pakhtun, and a pakistani till i die. my family has always been pakistani. born and bread. afghans have pakthuns. but so does pakistan and none of us want to be afghans. our loyalties lie with our motherland that is PAKISTAN. although, refugees who have lived amongst us and have had children in my opinion are pakistani, because that’s all that they know. they should be welcome to stay only and only if they are loyal to the land that have given them shelter and if they can contribute to the building of their “new” home.

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  • Dec 14, 2012 - 7:04AM

    These people are living in Pakistan for the last 32 yrs. Most of them were born here. They are now Pakistani. They should be living with us just like any other Pakistani.Actually they can move to any other part of Pakistan if they want. Where there is will there is way.Let us welcome them. They should not be going back to Afghanistan now. They were born and raised here, just like you and me. Helping them means helping Pakistan.Please finish their refugees status and let them settle where ever they wish to.If USA can accommodate. So many refugees every yr , why Pakistan can not do it. Especially those who were born in Pakistan, those families have special rights.

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  • Khan
    Dec 14, 2012 - 7:51AM

    @BruteForce:

    What happened to the concept of Ummah?

    Ghaznavids ruled the whole region at a time when this area was divided in different independent states .. Ghanavid dynasty is from Turkic origin who settled in this region not with current day boundaries and were ruler of even current day India. Secondly, there are more Pakhtuns in Pakistan than the whole population of Afghanistan put together.
    There has never been any concept called Ummah .. Zia ul Haq is long gone and the right wing politicians aka religious parties has never been voted by more than 2% voters.

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  • Khan
    Dec 14, 2012 - 8:31AM

    @Zalmai:

    Pakistan is made up of India and Afghanistan. Case closed.

    Now if you had even a little knowledge of history you wouldn’t say that .. Alas, not every one is fortunate enough to go to school.
    India -> the name itself is taken from Indus Valley civilization or the people who lived by the Indus River a.k.a River Sindh, a.k.a Abaseen. Its not a cake that you make from some ingredients .. Its a name given to the area which has been there from before any other civilization in recent history, be it Pekhawar / Gandhara or Mahonjodaro.

    Red Army is better than your dark skinned wanna be Arab army and I am not a refugee and never lived in Pakistan, thank God.

    Dark Skinned? Is that how you judge people mate? Shows the racist inside you … btw OUR Army has a huge numbers of Pukhtuns like Kernel Sher Khan .. so if you’re calling them dark skinned despite the fact that your name suggest you’re Pukhtun yourself .. I wonder how you got a different color while at the same time praising the Red Army?

    @Akshay:
    Perhaps if you had thought a bit more you would know that there is just one Jewish state and the reason they give shelter to Jews from around the world is to populate the area and thus extend their land while shrinking Palestinian side.
    On the other hand Pakistan isn’t the only Muslim state but one among few dozens.

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  • Someone
    Dec 14, 2012 - 3:14PM

    @Zalmai: “Correction, there are more than 60,000 Pakistani laborers and they are not Pashtun.”

    Correction, nearly all Pakistanis in Afghanistan are Pashtuns who travel back and forth across the Durand Line. Some of them work in blue-collar and white-collar jobs in some Afghan cities. The so-called labourers are leftovers of this tiny Pakistani Pashtun population in Afghanistan. Plus, why make such a big fuss about it, after all, those Pashtuns are working on “their land” ;)

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  • aman
    Dec 14, 2012 - 7:24PM

    @Truth Detector:
    we have already so many bangladeshis,so pakistan should handle them.afterall pakistan had destroyed their nation in past.

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  • Shahid Butt
    Dec 14, 2012 - 8:47PM

    @Muhammad Ahsan KHAN:
    Yes I agree with you. They are Pakistani citizen. They should not be living in camps. They must be allowed to settle in any part of Pakistan. Actually it is shame that we are treating them as refugees even after 32 yrs. There must be some politics involved in this matter. We have a living example in front of us. That is USA.
    USA has taken in so many immigrants both poor and rich. Country is stronger even today. It did not get poor or weaker. Immigrants always work harder. They have to survive. They have this will to pass thru their adverse time. They can survive on less. They will take every opportunity to be succesful.. I am immigrant from Pakistan to USA and I know it first hand.
    So be open hearted and accept the reality. These immigrants are our Pakistani brothers.
    GOD may bless Pakistan and USA.

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  • Shahid
    Dec 15, 2012 - 11:13AM

    When it comes to Pakistan, Afghans are the most ungrateful people.

    Also, actual no. of Afghans in Pakistan is close to 10 million. If 3 million Afghans came to Pakistan in the 1980s and stayed here for almost 30 years, do you think they didn’t reproduce?

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  • Dec 17, 2012 - 7:33PM

    Dear all Pak & Afg Brothers and sisters..!

    As a human I would like to mention, at first we are Muslims and second please for Godsake kick the ‘Hate’ out of your self.. and do love eachother.. If Afghani people are living from 30 days they didnt come here for fun or picnic.. acually their country disroyed by out siders by many other countries.. So I have never seen such a Afghani people who become a virus for this country.. UN gives alot of Money to Pakistan which is too good for constraction of Pakistan..

    I love Pakistan and Afghanistan people .. I just need you all to respect eachother and love eachother and leave what others says..

    wasalam.

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