Sinking economy and bulk of refugees

The Capital Police and Security Agencies have arrested 10 Afghan refugees affiliated with the Daesh militant outfit, who procured Pakistani National Identity Cards (NIC) and were living in several destinations across the national capital. According to the reports, the caretaker government has launched a countrywide operation against illegal migrants and an effective policy has been put in place to stop Afghans illegally entering Pakistan. The caretaker Prime Minister told the media that the government would send illegal refugees back to their countries, who are mostly involved in smuggling of drugs, goods and foreign currency that had a high cost to Pakistan.

Pakistan’s economy faced an economic slowdown for the last one year, with its foreign exchange reserves depleting, currency devaluing sharply and inflation rising to record highs. The commodities including wheat flour, chicken, sugar and fertilizers to petroleum products and medicines became rare in South Asian nation and mostly smuggled to Afghanistan. Recently, the LEAs revealed that the majority of the foreign currencies including most dearer American dollars were also being smuggled to neighbouring Afghanistan which caused serious survival risk to the state of Pakistan.

On the other hand, major Pakistani cities including Capital territory, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi and Hyderabad became a hub of street crimes, vehicle theft and ransome cases while the majority of involved criminals had been identified as Afghans. Pakistan had first opened its borders to Afghan refugees in the 1980s after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, becoming the largest refugee-hosting country in the world.

A significant number of Afghan came to Pakistan after the US-led alliance invaded the South Asian nation under the UN umbrella in late 2001. About half of the Afghan refugees were sent back during 2006-2007, majority of whom returned back to Pakistan due to unfavorable economic and law and order situation in that country. Official status revealed that nearly 2 million registered refugees are still residing in our nation but the real figures are several times higher than that and Pakistan’s economy had been scrambling under the weight of almost two nations, either directly or indirectly.

It is high time that the incumbent government must take up the case for the dignified return of all Afghan refugees whether registered or unregistered to their country. Although the Pakistani nation has displayed utmost hospitality and resilience over the past four decades, as of now, the Country’s economic situation does not afford such courtesy any more.