Afghan refugee influx

Increased influx of Afghan refugees hints at a volatile situation in Afghanistan

September 16, 2023


As Afghanistan grapples with the challenging aftermath of the Taliban takeover, neighbouring Pakistan has been a steadfast source of refuge for hundreds of thousands of Afghans seeking safety and security. According to UNHCR, around 600,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Pakistan over the past two years, underscoring the grim reality that war and terrorism always leave behind a bloody trail, and it is ultimately the common man who suffers the fight of ideologies.

This increased influx of Afghan refugees hints at a volatile situation in Afghanistan where instability, violence and a dire humanitarian crisis are implicitly unfolding. Pakistan has, throughout the process, extended a helping hand either on the diplomatic front by vouching for the new formed government or to the Afghan people by providing refugees with shelter, assistance and a sense of hope — despite itself being resource-strapped. This is not new. For decades, it has shown immense generosity by hosting refugees who fled conflict and persecution. The 1.3 million Afghan refugees already residing in Pakistan, many of whom hold Proof of Registration Cards, are a testament to this longstanding hospitality. The need for a recent crackdown on some 350 Afghans in Pakistan indicates that now Pakistan is biting on more than it can chew, and the situation will only compound further. Kabul and Islamabad must initiate a round-table talk and bilaterally sort the mess out, or at least chart a suitable path forward. Two birds can be killed with a stone if both are willing to jointly quell the scourge of terrorism for the sake of the peoples of the two countries.

Meanwhile, it is a moral imperative for the international community to not only facilitate such dialogue but also provide necessary assistance to the struggling refugees. It must be reiterated time and again that refugees are individuals with families suffering dire circumstances beyond their control. The least they deserve is compassion and assistance.


Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2023.

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