Returning refugees

The departure of Afghan refugees from Peshawar and areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has its drawbacks as well

Editorial September 25, 2017

The departure of Afghan refugees from Peshawar and different areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has its drawbacks as well. A number of trades and businesses that this community managed or ran are coming to an end. A recent article in this newspaper suggested that almost 90 per cent of the Afghan refugees who used to deal in antiques and handicrafts in the city have shut their shops ever since their repatriation began. The ongoing militancy in K-P, Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) and in Afghanistan has also left dark shadows over the historical trade. The antique market suffered mainly due to a poor law and order situation because of which buyers could not visit the shops of Peshawar but now it seems that the departure of the Afghan businessmen who ran most of the antique shops has been the final nail in the coffin for this business. There are many such trades and businesses in Pakistan where Afghan nationals have had a large stake and with their departure, these too are coming to an end.

For those who argue that the influx of Afghan refugees brought only guns and drugs, one must always consider the fact that in most instances, refugees bring with them a number of innovative ideas and services which only help to enrich the new country where they have settled. This is the case with most countries in the West, particularly the United States where refugees have contributed significantly to its various industries and technological advancements. Given this, one can wonder whether Pakistan has taken advantage of the skills and trades that the Afghan refugees brought with them following the Soviet intervention in their country in 1979. What we do know is that the Afghans did introduce their innovations in the food business, as well as in niche areas like carpet weaving. We should acknowledge their contributions as they return to their homeland.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2017.

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