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Afghan refugees

According to the statistics collected by the United Nations, the number of Afghan refugees returning to their homeland from Pakistan, this year, has crossed the figure of 350,000.

UN estimates that more than 150,000 of these 350,000 were undocumented refugees. The data collected shows that most of these returnees went back during last four months.

There can be a list of the reasons that refugees would move in or out of the host country; one of them being the insecure or hostile living conditions.

Pakistan is facing its fair (or unfair for that matter) share of terrorism and unrest. This pushed the lawmaking authorities to stress the much-needed action against the undocumented foreigners and suspicious outsiders based on the confirmed security analysis reports.

The law enforcing agencies have been holding a crackdown against these people ever since; this coupled with the attractively increased amount of stipend or grant for the returnees has encouraged the documented and undocumented Afghan refugees to return to their homeland from the hosting Pakistan.

The then chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, Dost Muhammad Khan, remarked in November 2013 that a significant percentage of Afghan refugees were causing huge problems for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and were being used by the country’s enemies.

According to the figures issued by UNHCR, Pakistan is the third largest refugees hosting nation for the estimated number of the documented Afghan refugees that Pakistan hosts, is 1.5 million; the number of undocumented refugees is much higher than this.

Pakistan has extended the cut-off date for the documented and legal Afghan refugees one too many times; the latest extension happened in 2015. The country has been home to more than 3 million Afghan refugees for over 3 decades.

Many of the young generation has not known any other place for a home than Pakistan. Some of us, such as Awami National Party, have come to terms with the Afghan community in Pakistan and have started to advocate their rights as citizens of Pakistan considering that asking them to leave this land will be an injustice to the generation that has born and raised here.

Similarly, the factors who have tried to study the contributions that the Afghan refugees are making to the revenue of the country in general and the province that they have most concentration in, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, say that the Afghans that have settled themselves and their families in the province for over three decades own from modest to big businesses in the province and are adding reasonable amount to the provincial revenue.

These factors believe that if these refugees return home they will take this revenue (approximately 0.4 million per annum) with them.

On the other hand, the country that these refugees are returning to, their motherland, already has one of the highest numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) because of the ongoing war and conflict that is spread over most of the part of Afghanistan.

The number of internally displaced people in this year alone has been around 323,500. The Afghan government has already asked Pakistan one too many times to extend the stay of the documented Afghan refugees and in recent conditions (the increased ) now there is a fear that the number of returnees will overwhelm the country.

Although the government of Pakistan has decided June 2017 to be the final cut-off date for the return of the Afghan refugees from the country but the statistics, the possible plight of the Afghan government to keep to refugees for little longer, and the increasing sympathetic sentiments towards the displaced people might result in further extension of this deadline.

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