Pakistan's stepchildren

Pakistan's stepchildren

What it means to live and die in Pakistan, but not call it home — this is the story of millions of Afghans.

Lost hope

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It has been 30 years since a young Afghan woman draped in a pomegranate red shawl stared back at the world from a glossy National Geographic cover.

Recently, as she languished in a Peshawar prison days before her unceremonious deportation, another photo emerged — this one starkly different. It was a hazy photograph before her court hearing in Peshawar. The sparkle of those beautiful eyes was gone and her jaundiced skin betrayed fatigue and pain — hallmarks of her years spent as an outsider in Pakistan.

Her crime: An illegal attempt to obtain an ID card that would allow her to be a citizen of Pakistan, the country that has been her home longer than Afghanistan.

Sharbat Gula was one of the nearly 2 million of Afghans still living in Pakistan, after escaping a homeland obliterated by violence. “Afghanistan is only my birthplace, but Pakistan was my homeland,” she said in one interview. Yet, Pakistan never accepted Gula as her own.

And so, dressed in a distinct cobalt blue burka, she left for Torkham border — for home — on Nov 8; her eyes hidden behind a lattice veil that made her indistinguishable from the thousands of Afghans being ‘repatriated’ from Pakistan.

Much like the life of this woman, arrests, forced payment of bribes, violence, harassment and intimidation are everyday features in the life of Afghans living in Pakistan.

Back in Afghanistan too things have changed over the years. Abdur Jabbar, another Afghan-origin man who until recently lived in Pakistan, is back living in Jalalabad. Aged 70, he had to leave Pakistan after spending 40 years in the country. Many like him came back to Afghanistan only to find that their houses were either destroyed by war or were occupied by someone else. Abdul is also concerned for his children. “They used to make a good living selling vegetables and fruits in Peshawar, but they are yet to find anything here,” he says.

Each day in the life of these Afghans is a struggle. These are their stories.

‘When I told the doctor that my son is dying, he advised me to go seek treatment for him in Pakistan’

By Nasir Khan

Pakistan’s image is more tainted than celebrated in most countries. Yet to Afghans, Pakistan is a place with an enviable healthcare system. Owing to the poor quality of healthcare in Afghanistan, Afghan patients often look towards India and Pakistan when in need of medical assistance.

Until recent clashes at the Torkham border, “Half of the patients [at our hospital] were Afghan,” Tariq Khan, director administration of the Rehman Medical Institute had told Dawn in July 2016. “But now we attend up to 400 patients, only 100 of whom are Afghans,” he said.

The very promise of better medical facilities drew Rabia, a young Afghan woman, to Quetta with a desperate hope to find care for her ailing two-year-old.


“Go to Pakistan,” a doctor told her when she took her little Musawir to a 24-hour hospital in Kunduz.


Her boy, Musawir, had been battling debilitating health issues since birth. “He had always been weak and never wanted to drink my milk,” she said in an interview.

Consultations with several doctors in her hometown of Kunduz, Afghanistan, ended in disappointment.

“They tried many treatments, and I thought his condition would improve but his health continued to deteriorate.”

“Go to Pakistan,” a doctor told her when she took her little Musawir to a 24-hour hospital in Kunduz. Thinking that her son was dying, she agreed.

A newborn at the MSF Quetta Paediatric Hospital. — Amandine Colin/MSF
A newborn at the MSF Quetta Paediatric Hospital. — Amandine Colin/MSF

Despite being barely able to make ends meet, her husband, a farmer, made the arrangements for their journey. He sent Rabia and Musawir to Pakistan.

“He was afraid that we might run into trouble with the authorities if he was with us,” she said. “It is easier for women.”

The family sold their only goat, enabling Rabia and her baby to travel from Kunduz to Kabul — the journey took nearly six hours by car. The following day they moved towards Kandahar, which was over 500 kilometres away. After travelling over 200 kilometres more, they were finally in Quetta.

A rude shock awaited the mother and her ailing son after the taxing journey. “They [doctors] were asking for a lot of money and I had already spent everything I had to travel here.”

She was told her son needed a blood transfusion immediately. Alone and without any resources, Rabia broke down. Her husband comforted her over the phone, asking her to have faith.

Soon they found a solution. She got to a MSF Doctors Without Borders hospital where her son received treatment free of charge.

“Musawir is getting better, but I do not know if he will be healthy. I am so tired,” she said.

Two days after this MSF interview, Musawir tragically passed away; he was suffering from malnutrition and severe sepsis.

Fractured relations

‘We doubt your marriage’

By Malik Achakzai

What is home? Is it a place or a state of mind? For some it may be the country where they are born, for many it is the country where their family resides.

To 45-year-old Farida Siddiqi, home is Pakistan — the country where she lives with her husband and two children.

But the state does not recognise her as a citizen.

When she presented her nikahnama to Nadra officials to apply for a Pakistani identity card, she was looked at with suspicion.

“Dozens of female Afghan refugees fake a marriage in order to get a CNIC. We cannot process your request because we are not convinced your marriage is legitimate,” she was told.

Nadra provides CNICs to individuals who can provide documentary evidence that at least one parent is Pakistani.

Photo by White Star
Photo by White Star

No law in their favour

Citizenship for Afghan refugees and migrants, or their descendants has long been a contentious issue. According to the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951, anyone born in Pakistan is a national by birth, except those whose parents are ‘aliens’ — someone “who is not citizen of Pakistan”.

Furthermore, Pakistan is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, nor to its 1967 additional protocol. As such, according to the Pakistani government, it is not obligated to “facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of refugees.”


Pakistan is not a signatory of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, nor to its 1967 additional protocol.


A Proof of Registration (PoR) card is issued to registered refugees, allowing them to stay as “Afghan citizen[s] temporarily residing in Pakistan”.

In the aftermath of the attacks on APS and Bacha Khan University by the Taliban, Afghan refugees, who are mostly Pashtun, came under fire and scrutiny. The now two-year-old National Action Plan, a blueprint for Pakistan’s anti-terrorism strategy, calls for “comprehensive policy … for registration of Afghan refugees”, raising distrust and suspicion.

Photo by White Star
Photo by White Star

Increasing uncertainty

More than registration, the government is keen on expelling refugees — a process initiated long before the APS attacks.

In 2010, the government formed the Afghan Management and Repatriation Strategy, and in 2012, the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees.

Working in tandem with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan government, the goal of both these strategies was to slowly send refugees back to Afghanistan.

After the APS attack, the government sought to hasten the process and announced that the PoRs would expire in 2015 and all Afghan refugees would have to leave.

Soon, however, the government decided to extend the PoR until the end of 2016. And later another stay extension was given until March 2017.

Photo by White Star
Photo by White Star

‘How can I leave my children and husband behind, and move out of Pakistan?
By Sirajuddin and Abdur Rauf Yousafzai

Days of Pakistani women married to Afghan men, living in Pakistan, are rife with uncertainty. On another such day, many of these women stage a protest in Peshawar against the deportation of their husbands.

“Humara saath do Saddar Mian Nawaz Sharif, Khuda ke liyeh” [For God’s sake, support us Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif], reads one of the many placards they hold.

One of the women at the protest is Razia, a mother of six who is married to an Afghan refugee since 1992. After over 20 years of a happy marriage, the future of her marriage is now plunged in uncertainty.

While Razia refuses to move to Afghanistan, her husband does not have much choice in the matter. The crackdown against Afghan refugees in Pakistan means the family will have to split.

“I am Pakistani, my children are Pakistanis, they are born and raised here,” she tells Dawn.com.

“The higher ups are not listening to us,” she sighs.

Nausheen Bibi remembers in vivid detail the wretched day she lost her brother — a militia fighter battling USSR troops — when she was just three years old.

37 years later, the memory continues to make her shudder. Her only pleasant childhood memories are from the time her family managed to flee her troubled hometown of Kunduz for Pakistan.

And so began her life in Peshawar, where she lived with her family in the city’s Androon Shehr.

Years later, a young Pakistani man was in the area to meet his aunt, when he saw Nausheen — and surely she saw him. “He had a very attractive personality,” she says timidly. It was love at first sight.

With nervous glances, she says, “Mung dwanara raza wo [we both agreed on the marriage],” and so with their family’s consent the couple tied the knot.

They have three daughters and two sons. The oldest is in college; the youngest is four.

Nausheen’s children were born in Peshawar; her in-laws and husband are Pakistani — yet, she is not.

“I cannot even think about leaving Pakistan,” she says, “How can I leave my children and husband behind?”


“Do you think that my kids would get the kind of education and health facilities in Afghanistan that they do here?”


“The government cannot separate our family,” the mother says, embracing her youngest daughter.

She worries about what kind of future her children would have if they had to move to Afghanistan. “Do you think that my kids would get the kind of education and health facilities in Afghanistan that they do here?” she asks, further predicting that, “I do not see peace returning to the country in the next 50 years.”

Ironically, her Pakistani husband does not live in the country. He works in Saudi Arabia and sends back money to support his family.

To Nausheen, Pakistan and Afghanistan are both part of her identity, “I cannot differentiate between Afghanistan and Pakistan. I was born there, but I flourished here.”

Temporary relief

During the winters the UNHCR has postponed the repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.

According to an IMF report over 700,000 Afghans returned to their native country in 2016, mainly from Pakistan.

Approximately 4.2 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan voluntarily under the UNHCR-funded Voluntary Repatriation programme since 2002.

Speaking to AFP, a spokesperson for UNHCR said that some 1.34 million registered refugees still reside in Pakistan. She also estimated that the number of undocumented refugees living in the country is half a million.

This only gives way for more uncertainty amongst Afghans living in Pakistan. According to media reports, the repatriation would relaunch from Mar 1, 2017.

Photo by White Star
Photo by White Star

‘We paid a bribe to find out where our missing son is’
By Saher Baloch

Back in Karachi, another mother in distress is Bibi Gul. For the past eight months, she has been waiting for her son, Sanaullah, to get back to Jhunjhar Goth. On Jan 8, soon after midnight, six uniformed men barged inside their home and whisked him away, ignoring his family’s pleas.

The next morning his brother, Muhammad Abdullah, went to inquire about the ‘arrest’. The police officers at the Sohrab Goth police station did not have much to divulge. He was asked to speak to officers at the Sachal police station, which proved to be another dead end.

Eight months after he went missing, Sanaullah’s family was informed by the Sachal police station that an FIR (430/2016) dated Aug 14, 2016, was registered against him for being involved in “criminal activities”.

Sanaullah is now at the central jail; his family claims that he is innocent.

The family travelled from the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan to Pakistan around 2008. Being relatively recent migrants to Karachi, the father and son soon got jobs in a nearby madrasa; the former as a cook and the latter as a teacher.

Covering her face with her chador, Bibi Gul keeps a bundle of documents next to her in order to present as evidence to any officer or consulate member willing to listen.


“If I could, I would sell the house to get the money but I have nowhere else to go.”


“We have been to the police station, where we were charged Rs25,000 to divulge where he is. We have also been asked to get a lawyer, but he is demanding Rs150,000 to take up the case.”

With a gesture towards her husband, who is sitting in a corner of the small living room, she adds, “He earns Rs5,000. If I could, I would sell the house to get the money but I have nowhere else to go.”

Throughout the meeting, Bibi Gul clutches at her PoR card, claiming, “They picked my son despite his clean record. He is being unnecessarily detained and the case against him is false.”

There is nothing much she can do, she laments.

Denied identity

‘The happiest day of my life was when I got my Pakistani CNIC’

By Ali Akbar and Sirajuddin

When Sajjad Khan first opened his eyes, he was in Pakistan, at a refugee camp in Peshawar. This is the country where he said his first words and the only country he truly knows.

The now 35-year-old says his family had fled Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan war to find safety. Days turned into months, and months into years but the war did not end.

After spending nearly a year at the camp, Sajjad’s family moved to a rented house.

To support them, his father started selling vegetables on a pushcart. After almost 15 years of hard work, they established a food business and began to earn an adequate livelihood.

Sajjad tells Dawn that being unable to apply for Pakistani nationality, they were still facing many problems. Their business and other properties could not be purchased in Sajjad’s father’s name.


He says that the biggest problem that the ID cards rid them of was police harassment.


Neither Sajjad, nor his family wanted to go back to Afghanistan.

After developing relations in government and private business offices, Sajjad’s family came up with the idea of getting ID cards — based on false information.

He still remembers the day he got his Pakistani CNIC. “It was the happiest of my life,” he says.

“After acquiring the identity cards we transferred the properties to our own names and purchased a house in a residential area,” he says. Further adding that the biggest problem that the ID cards rid them of was police harassment.

“We also got access to facilities like hospitals, education, housing and travelling.”

Because of their new cards, Sajjad’s family was finally able to perform Haj and Umra.

Their family was not an exception.

“Thousands of other Afghan families enjoyed facilities available to Pakistani citizens after obtaining ID cards based on fake information.”

Afan, another Afghan-origin man remarked that obtaining Pakistani CNICs was not tough 10 years ago — at the time officials were readily issuing cards in lieu of bribes.

An FIA official tells Dawn that Afghans not only purchase properties by obtaining these CNICs but also serve in government departments and actively participate in local government elections.

Things have changed now. Many Afghan-origin families like those of Sajjad and Gula are facing problems as the government has started strictly reverifying CNICs.

An Afghan refugee woman waits to board a truck at the UNHCR repatriation centre on the outskirts of Peshawar. — AFP
An Afghan refugee woman waits to board a truck at the UNHCR repatriation centre on the outskirts of Peshawar. — AFP

‘Learning Urdu became my passion’
By Saher Baloch

Ghazi Khan, 54, is among the second generation of Afghan refugees who came to Pakistan in the early 1980s. He is one of the few people in Karachi’s bustling bazaar of Al-Asif Square who speaks fluent Urdu apart from his mother tongue, Farsi.

His family and eight siblings covered the 15-day-long journey from his ancestral home in East Afghanistan to the Torkham border on foot. After moving they had to learn things “the hard way” and go the extra mile to assimilate in Pakistani society.

Ghazi quickly started to learn Urdu because he was often refused jobs because of his inability to converse easily during business transactions.

“Learning the language became my passion,” he recalls.

The second priority was finding a job. “There were two types of Afghans coming over to Pakistan at the time. Those who could afford to invest in the transport business, and those who were daily wagers such as my father. Selling our land in Paktia did not get us enough money; so the first few years were tough on the family,” he says.

After working at a teashop and later at a garage, his father bought a shop along with a few friends from Paktia in Al-Asif Square.

Ghazi ultimately took over the shop.

Things are very different today. He is not happy with business, and sales have been low for the past few months.


We sing the same national anthem as any other Pakistani and love this country.


“There is a general disappointment among people over the continuing animosity between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is not our fault,” he says.

He continues, “All across the world a person gets citizenship after spending about five to 10 years in a country. We have spent three decades of our lives in Pakistan and yet we are called mohajireen.”

“It is us, the second generation, that is still keeping a link between Afghanistan and Pakistan alive by inculcating our tradition, language and culture in our children,” he adds.

Ghazi worries about how the next generation of Afghans in Pakistan would survive if they had to go back to Afghanistan. He tells Dawn that these children prefer speaking in Urdu and cannot communicate fluently in Farsi or Pashto.

“We no longer have links with our extended family back in Paktia. They illegally encroached upon our land or sold it for a far lesser than their actual value. As a result of this animosity with the relatives, the link with language and way of living also broke.”

The constant checking of PoR Cards by the police and Pakistan Rangers with the beginning of operation in Karachi in Sep 2013, resumed again with Islamabad’s renewed efforts to repatriate Afghan refugees.

“Afghans are arrested quickly just by mentioning that they are one during security search in Jhunjhar Goth and surrounding areas,” Ghazi adds.

“It has reached a point where we have to beg to be shown respect. We sing the same national anthem as any other Pakistani and love this country.”

Uncertain livelihood

‘The Afghans leaving will affect my business’

Sirajuddin and Tooba Masood

Meet Muhammad Azeem.

When he moved to a refugee camp in Peshawar, the skilled carpet maker started weaving carpets from his tent to support his extended family, which had accompanied him to Pakistan.

At this stage, he could never imagine that he would one day run a factory, and become the largest producer of Afghan carpets in Peshawar.

Initially, he would sell the carpets at very low rates. While working on carpets, he also continued building ties with salesmen, exporters, and traders in Peshawar and other cities.

After years of resolute efforts and sleepless nights, he managed to get enough of a financial standing to rent a small house in Peshawar’s Faqirabad area. His family finally moved out of the relief camp, ready to start a new chapter of their lives.

An Afghan vendor selling sweets at a roadside stall in Peshawar. — Malik Achakzai
An Afghan vendor selling sweets at a roadside stall in Peshawar. — Malik Achakzai

Of the many stereotypes that exist about Afghan refugees and migrants in Pakistan, one of the strongest is that they are a burden on the economy. This assumption fails to take into account the fact that Afghans have for years been assimilated in Pakistan and contribute to various industries including food, transport, and, of course, the carpet industry.

Today, Azeem’s carpets are best known for their artistry, colour palette and design — ‘both locally and internationally,’ he alleges.

At the time, demand for handwoven Afghan carpets was high, he says. “There were no factories in the city. This gave us an advantage, we worked day night; engaging more skilled workers to meet the demand.”

With time Azeem was able to employ more workers — creating about 80 jobs — and rent a building on Charsadda road to use as a factory.

Pakistan gave Azeem the opportunity of making it on his own based on sheer hard work, and he took it with stride.

And then the Army Public School attack happened.


“Production has decreased by 95 per cent; we have stopped further purchasing rugs and other material. We are nearly ready to close the factory.”


The police started raids and crackdowns against Afghans, forcing many to return to Afghanistan to avoid police harassment and arrest.

As Azeem’s buyers, and workers, started to leave Pakistan, he found himself back to square one.

More than 30 of his factory’s Afghan skilled workers have left the country.

“Production has decreased by 95 per cent; we have stopped further purchasing rugs and other material. We are nearly ready to close the factory,” a disappointed Azeem says.

Dozens of other Afghan carpet producers have closed shop.

Photo courtesy AFP
Photo courtesy AFP

The carpet market is not doing much better in Karachi.

Towards the heart of the daunting maze that is Al-Asif Square, is a street known to every man, woman and child in the area — ‘Carpet Wali Gali’. The gali’s colloquial name was supposedly given to it due to the Afghan traders that had set up shop in the vicinity.

With a residential block of apartments on the left, the right side is lined with shopkeepers and carpets from all over the world.

In one of the shops, sits Baba Nazar, a second-generation Afghan immigrant who was born in Karachi. The 22-year-old says that his ties to the land his father was born in are still strong.

His father, an Afghan who moved here in the late 1970s in hopes of settling down, had started their carpet business — making, buying and selling all sorts of carpets, daris and dastarkhwans. He still runs the small shop in Al-Asif.

An Afghan eatery in Peshawar. — Malik Achakzai
An Afghan eatery in Peshawar. — Malik Achakzai

“He moved to Karachi before I was born...before even my eldest brother was born. He has spent at least 35 years in this city alone,” Nazar tells Dawn.

According to the young man, along with locally handcrafted carpets, they also sell carpets and rugs made in Iran, Turkey and Belgium.

He shows us the most expensive item in their shop: a deep red carpet from Turkey, the price can fluctuate from Rs45,000 to Rs55,000 depending on the buyer (and their bargaining skills). The shop also has several cloth and jute dastarkhawans on sale ranging from Rs1,500 to Rs3,000.


“Our business depends on the residents of this area and the Afghan community.”


He adds that Iranian carpets were another category altogether — “I have Iranian carpets starting from Rs12,000 to Rs22,000; there are different rates for different patterns, thread and type of work.”

Like Azeem, Nazar too enjoyed good business until recently.

“Most of my own customers are from Karachi,” Nazar says. “I get a lot of people from Orangi, Banaras and many other far off places,” he adds.

On an average, the shop did good business, he tells Dawn. “We would make around Rs30,000 to Rs35,000 in one day if we had a good buyer. It always depends on the number of buyers,” he says.

“With the government asking the Afghans to leave I believe that it will affect my business,” he says, pausing to reconsider, “…actually I feel that it already has”.

“I cannot say what is happening in other markets but just buying and selling carpets in our own market, our business depends on the residents of this area and the Afghan community,” he says.

“If you send them back to Afghanistan, who will buy all these carpets? Business will go thapp [down],” he explains.


CREDITS
Project director | Fahad Naveed
Executive producer | Atika Rehman
Editing | Atika Rehman, Fahad Naveed, Jahanzeb Hussain
Design | Alyna Butt
Videography | Kamran Nafees


Comments (133) Closed



Akil Akhtar Jan 31, 2017 07:31am

We seem to worry more about others than our own citizens ....they are refugees who bad mouth Pakistan and support India even living here. Its is sad to see our own people having such little regard for Pakistan.

Akil Akhtar Jan 31, 2017 07:26am

The Afghans have to go if we want to care about Pakistanis and Pakistan first.....We cannot carry them anymore.

Akil Akhtar Jan 31, 2017 07:32am

In this case criticising Pakistan is extremely disappointing....

Gohar Jan 31, 2017 07:31am

Very well written piece. Pakistan needs to put in place a system whereby Afghan refugees deemed eligible can apply for Pakistani citizenship especially those that were born in the country and pass through our security and national checks can and should be given nationality. We should not type-cast all of them as trouble makers for we will be no different than the terrorists who are encouraging a wedge between our two people. We share a common border and many of the refugees were born in Pakistan and only know of our country as their home. They have lived side by side and worked along side us. We have countless illegal and undocumented economic migrants from india, Bangledesh and Burma who were neither born here, are involved in criminal activity and use Pakistani papers to to travel abroad to the middle east, Europe and North America. We need to have a better system in place to filter migrants, illegals and refugees which will address each group appropriately.

mAVERIK Jan 31, 2017 07:49am

Although I am an advocate of sending the Afghans back to their country (for various reasons), I also feel the pain and anguish at their condition of being stuck between a rock & a hard place. A person born and raised in Pakistan is an equal Pakistani. I sincerely wish that the Afghan govt had not brought this calamity upon the Afghan refugees (through various policies). It would take a lot of courage and wisdom to tackle the Afghan refugees problem, but I believe the govt should come up with a policy that doesn't do injustice to those who are more Pakistani than Afghans. Surely we are better than Trump.

Abbassi Jan 31, 2017 07:51am

Sad stories. However, more than Pakistan, its the Afghan Govt's behaviour causing trouble for them. It is not our values to treat harshly to those in trouble, but these are also not our values that you abuse our motherland and we just listen. Politely asking you to leave for your own country is all we'd say with all such abuses.

AHA Jan 31, 2017 07:54am

And we blame Trump

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Jan 31, 2017 08:00am

Love you Afghani Pakistani family :). Love from Pakistan to you my fellow Pakistanis. Long live Afg-Pak brotherhood.

ahmad Jan 31, 2017 08:06am

well i have loads of sympathies with these families, but these kind of people are very few. However if Pakistan formulated a formula to allow citizenship to those who wont go to Afghanistan for 10 years.

DANNY Jan 31, 2017 08:03am

I have done Civil Engineering from UET Peshawar. I befriended many Afghanis and God knows how much they were happy there.

Jawad Asif Jan 31, 2017 08:02am

Such a failed state of affairs. This is truely a brutal act of seperating families. Those who are married here or born here must have the right to live here. The law must be amended to accomodate those to save the family breakup atleast.

Zeeshan Jan 31, 2017 08:08am

The article might have got many things right , but calling the stepchildren may be too dark, the afghans were welcomed at the time of the war and most of the people in those areas sacrificed their way of life. They today have businesses and investments in pakistan which had driven prices of many areas and some of them also brought with them the gun culture. Don't we see a no access zone at Asif square in Karachi. Moreover why don't you write a comprehensive article also on the Pakistanis who have been in the gulf countries and after generations are still treated as third class citizens.

Fawad Jan 31, 2017 08:12am

Good job Dawn!!! The government needs to come up with a plan to integrate afghans into Pakistan instead marginalising them!!!!

Khan Jan 31, 2017 08:25am

Eye opening. We should remember that these people are first and foremost human beings before we stereotype them.

Khan Jan 31, 2017 08:37am

Pakistanis welcomed Afghan refugees. Probably highest number in the world. In return we get drug mafias, illegal arm and ammunitions from Karachi to Fata and crime. Thats why public opinion is in favor of sending them back and we wish them well and happy life.

PARVEZ CHOWDHURY Jan 31, 2017 08:58am

They are Muslim brothers and sister. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan be united and be one Strong United Country!

Atif Jan 31, 2017 09:08am

I feel sad for these people. I hope peace comes to Afghanistan soon so they can go back home and rebuild their county.

Zia Jan 31, 2017 09:14am

None in the world have seriously paid attention to Afghan refugees. This would have been great chance for Pakistan to build up a more solid base for Afghan refugees with determination of educating them. However Pakistani religious bourgeois capitalized on the calamity by confusing them into madrassah culture. This is then eruption of a negative mindset into extreme aspect of religion.

waleed fakhar Jan 31, 2017 09:25am

Afghanies must be sent to their home land and that's it.

waqar farooqui Jan 31, 2017 09:20am

Afghans are burdensome on pakistan,they must be sent back as pakistan itself is not a rich country who can bear 3 millions afghans.

Praphul Jan 31, 2017 09:33am

Beautifully covered.. well articulated.. touched on many instances.. There is a matter of concern with regards to Afghan refugees.

SABIR KHAN Jan 31, 2017 09:35am

Look like the day they crossed the ThurKham border. Their intention show by it self. They were planning to settle in Pakistan permanently not as a temporary refugees. Unpacking and packing are hard but some one has to do it. Reading the article suggest they broken every rule and law to get CNIC. I got Afghan childhood friends from school time but simply they need to go. We cannot afford them. They selfish and disintegration attitude will never make them loyal Pakistani. So I request to the government don,t extend their stay.

Wiki Jan 31, 2017 09:40am

We don't need them anymore. Enough is enough.

AZhar Jan 31, 2017 09:44am

This is injustice. Pakistan is the only home known to many of these people who came here so long ago. They should be given the Pakistani citizenship - this is the only humane action Pakistan can take.

DEMOCRAT Zafar Jan 31, 2017 09:42am

These Afghans should be sent back to Afghanistan immediately as it would be good for them and Pakistan both.

Nasir Jan 31, 2017 09:57am

They're themselves to be blamed. We gave them everything and what they gave us? A betrayal!

RIZ Jan 31, 2017 09:58am

an eye opener,, really awesome reporting on very important issue.. we shuld have treated them well,, they could be our asset (by winning hearts and mind) in Afganistan.. other countries did very very little for Afghans but still able to inculcate soft image among Afghans,, Pakistan did a lot but still have a bad image,,, the case of Sharbat gulla handled very poorly,, she deserve a good treatment here in Pakistan.. we don't throw poor and sick our of our home, THIS IS NOT US, Where million are spent on treatment of parliamentarians and generals and others, here one poor women could have been treated as well.

MAVERICK Jan 31, 2017 10:18am

The only solution is universal brotherhood and compassion. Boundaries have to be shattered and religion has to be given up. Dawn- thanks for highlighting the problems.

Noor Jan 31, 2017 10:45am

A great feature. Wonderfully captures the whole picture. Bravo

haider shaikh Jan 31, 2017 11:19am

@AZhar If a guest comes to your home to stay, will you give him a room to stay forever with you and share in your property? I hope not. Then why don’t you consider Pakistan is like your own home not an international refugee center.

Annam Jan 31, 2017 11:17am

What an amazing piece! I would have loved to read more about their job issues, if they are easily excepted or not in the society. Also when talking about the carpets, we could have seen more artistic visuals, pictures of their carpets. The write up was great, the visuals didn't compliment it.

THE THINKER Jan 31, 2017 11:21am

These Afganis and Afghanistan always blame Pakistan and supports India, but as a matter of fact I think they are the carrier of terrorism in Pakistan. Even these so called refugees are so arrogant that they don't like to talk politely with us. I would better support my own citizens rather than the propaganda makers.

adnan mazher khan Jan 31, 2017 11:19am

They are not OUR children. I am not ready to accept this. They are Afghans and they have for most part of history remained our enemies. Why are we more worried about Afghan kids than our own kids.

adnan mazher khan Jan 31, 2017 11:24am

@Khan.. Bring all refuges of the world to Pakistan. After all they are also human beings. What about 60% of uneducated and malnutritioned children of Pakistan. Are they not humans?

Babar Jan 31, 2017 11:28am

I hope to see a similar article for Pakistanis living in Pakistan. For what I have seen, Pakistanis are in worst conditions than Afghans in Afghanistan. When are we going to start worrying about ourselves???

sabir rozdar Jan 31, 2017 11:36am

Great stories! good work,so what do yo prefer to do with these immigrants? they should leave country or stay?

Anoni Jan 31, 2017 11:36am

I wished there weren't anomisity between the goverments due to which innocent people had to suffer. The Afghan goverment forced the hand by being so negatively position towards it neighbour , which had helped 3 million plus of it's citizen. The money has corrupted their mind and they have forgotten about their people and its suffering.

On the other hand i wished if it was possible to create a path for people who had stayed for more than 3 decade to be given some right to stay i.e like a green card . After all we all are human first

jMasood Jan 31, 2017 12:13pm

Excellent analysis !! On one end we can see super powers abandoned refugees, we as Pakistanis must be proud of our contribution towards humanitarian and human crisis and pass it on to our generations to follow. This must be done with proper documentation and immigration laws, though. All nationals/religions must be treated equally as Islam teach us. However, internationally Pakistan contributions are always portrayed negatively through lobbying and politics.

Adeel faryad Jan 31, 2017 12:15pm

We are blaming Afghan refugees instead of a hollow system of our own to handle with the issues.

Comment Jan 31, 2017 12:15pm

I appreciate Dawn's timing in coming up with this feature. Well done

Comment Jan 31, 2017 12:21pm

@MAVERICK Religion need not be given up. It only needs to be practiced in the way its meant to be. With most religions that means with compassion, tolerance and patience.

chirag Jan 31, 2017 12:25pm

Pakistanis were recently condeming Trump for banning Muslims coming in to America...Trump is banning people who hasn't even entered USA....and he is a bad guy as per Pakistanis....but Pakistan is uprooting people who have stable life for more than 30+ years....and they are doing this to Muslims as well....

By this logic, all Pakistanis in the west who have claimed asylum should be returned back to Pakistan as well...funny thing is a lot of Pakistanis in the west claim they are from Afghanistan and want political asylum in the west

Horrible

Awais khan Jan 31, 2017 12:25pm

You got the answer in your own article actually, where one factory was closed down due to deportation of afghan worker, if he was sincere with Pakistan why did'nt he train Pakistanis not even half of them ?, they make carpets and sell to each other keep money in cash never use Banks, little trade they do with Afghanistan is always through smuggling, one its time to stand with with Afghanistan or Pakistan they will with Afghanistan, if you entertain one with CNIC he will try till his death to facilitate even his third cousin to get one, I happened to have a friend in NADRA and one with Pushton friend as mostly they still have strong ties with Afghanistan among them they have stories to tell one tells how they try to dodge NADRA and other what hypocrite to their souls are they.. With my own ancestor being from Afghanistan I used to feel for them until one day I happened to read an English Afghan newspaper now I feel like throwing each one of them out Pakistan.. 1/2

Awais khan Jan 31, 2017 12:20pm

Having said all this their should be room for accommodating few deserving but its really difficult to get devise a program where they can be accommodated partly due to ill rotten corrupt functionary of ours secondly even decades are not enough for more of Aghani to get sincere with the soul that provides them... 2/2

Imran Ahmed Jan 31, 2017 12:20pm

Considering the sympathy in Pakistan for victims of President Trump's immigration policy will we show more sympathy for the plight of the even more wretched people trying to enter our country, seeking our help? Or have our double standards become far too deeply entrenched? Does the injustice and callousness in our hearts know any bounds?

MK Jan 31, 2017 12:25pm

Just as in America and the West, the main problem is the terrorists, not the refugees. The terrorists in Afghanistan and Syria and Iraq create this problematic environment that everyone is fleeing there.

Khan Jan 31, 2017 12:28pm

These refugees have already suffered alot. I wish my Pakistani compatriots understand their feelings and give them respect so that they can live their lives with peace. Not all of them are terrorists and anti-Pakistan, I beleive.

SK Jan 31, 2017 12:30pm

This is really sad - you must feel for these poor folks. Help !!!!!!

Salim Shah Jan 31, 2017 12:55pm

@mAVERIK after such treatment, that day is not far when there will be a peace in Afghanistan, their citizen will live peacefully in Afghanistan, they will have more employment opportunities, indeed they will have every thing which a civilized country has... but..... they will be a fire in their eyes, they will be hate rock in their heart against Pakistan as now so called Bengali has...

wanghai Jan 31, 2017 01:05pm

They should be given Pakistani nationality, because living in some country for such a long period of time makes people fall in love with that country, and if leaving that country is as painful as leaving the true love. And obviously it breaks down families. Pakistan should use their talent rather than pushing them go back home

Salih Jan 31, 2017 01:09pm

Its a huge economic burden on Pakistan health sector. Unfortunately, neither Afghan nor Pakistan can do better to make Afghanistan safe for them due to international politics in Kabul.

Faisal Khan Jan 31, 2017 01:12pm

a non taxpayer is a burden on economy even if it is a citizen, so saying or implying that they are not the burden it wrong. Secondly Pakistan should have made sure that their is tangible peace in Afghanistan so that they people can leave in dignified manner.

M.wasim Jan 31, 2017 01:12pm

I have spent my life among afghan refugees. Despite the bad side of some afghanis, i feel extremely sorry for the poverty level they have. I am sure the poor afghani will die of hunger and epidemics due to the lack of attention from afghan government.

Niaz khan Jan 31, 2017 01:23pm

My cousin wife is afghan. We started a case in Peshawar court for her . But all these general refugees should go back to afghanistan. Afghan govt should arest punish all those afghan warlords whose are the main biggest hurdles in the way of peace

Qadeer Jan 31, 2017 01:21pm

A litmus test for the any society is the way they treat their most marginalized section. Consistent lack of apathy from my fellow Pakistanis towards misfortune of afghan refugees is appalling and uncalled for.

Global Peace Jan 31, 2017 01:36pm

looking at all comments i wonder what is the difference between Trump wanting to send back all refugee & common Pakistanis wishing to send back all Afghans. In the same term i hope all Pakistanis support the Move by Trump as they wish the same for Afghans . Point to think about.

READER Jan 31, 2017 01:45pm

When our own children are dying of hunger in Sindh, how can a country like us take responsibility of refugees. Pakistan is a home to the highest refugee population in the world. Give it some credit for all these years. Now, it is time that we worry for ourselves.

jack Jan 31, 2017 01:52pm

A country that does not have respect for its own people, will have little respect for others. Its sad that people are being deported in this way while being married to men or women here and having children. These people could be a source of strength for Pakistan. I understand it must have caused socio economic problems for Pakistan, but maybe if this country had a better organised system in place, it could have trained many of these afghans in key education skills in science, and technology economics, and brought prosperity to them and to Pakistan.

jack Jan 31, 2017 01:50pm

@Jawad Asif I agree. This is something that should be done, families should not be separated in this way. Thank you.

A. A. Jan 31, 2017 01:50pm

I remember playing with an Afghan kid with an amputated leg on the grounds of PIMS, Islamabad back in 1984-85. We met while I was there with my mother for some vaccination and the kid started telling me how he got shot in his leg. I was hardly 6-7 years old but the feeling of immense helplessness to fix his leg somehow still lingers to this day. I hope we see people as people, and not just as some numbers.

shabeer Jan 31, 2017 02:35pm

It is the best story about Afghans in Pakistan that I have read. Thanks

Wasif Jan 31, 2017 02:49pm

I think along with all these touching stories that can cause goosebumps, we should see the situation of out people as well. We have paid a high cost of the brother hood and the current Afghan Army is not realizing the sacrifices done by us. Therefore its a time to sympathies to ourselves first. Its good to see that Afghanistan is establishing under the influence of US, Nato and India and they should accommodate these refugees as well.

taimoor khan Jan 31, 2017 02:52pm

"A rude shock awaited the mother and her ailing son after the taxing journey. “They [doctors] were asking for a lot of money and I had already spent everything I had to travel here.”

Sad story really. But, at the same time its difficult to image that there is a perception among Afghans that Pakistan will provide them free healthcare when its own citizens dont have such privilege!

Junaid Khalid Jan 31, 2017 02:50pm

Well it's very sad to hear but they are always guests for Pakistan and we gave them alot respect.but now we suffering from alot of problems so now they should to go back their country.

Mahtab Rasheed Jan 31, 2017 02:53pm

It is very heartbreaking for us as Pakistani that these poor Afghani's are facing difficulties but there are also some misdeeds conducted by minority of Aghans which caused mistrust and hate in Pakistan for them. We hope that our authorities in Pakistan and world forces could provide them seamless transition from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Sajid Jan 31, 2017 02:58pm

The article is articulated in a way as Pakistan has not done enough for Afghan Refugees; contrary to the actual fact and reality. We suffered the most in this world due to crisis in Afghanistan and are still suffering and would continue to do so in future. Now, it depend on us how early we want to finish our sufferings.
Afghan refugees, must go back, time and procedure is a variable, which can be discussed and changed to facilitate them. Bad treatment by police or other issues are also happening to our own citizens but the author of article seems biased toward Afghanistan.

Karachite Jan 31, 2017 03:02pm

@Abbassi Exactly

Karachite Jan 31, 2017 03:10pm

@Fawad They don't even deserve to be kicked in the back. But we are more than kind enough that we are just politely asking them to leave.

Karachite Jan 31, 2017 03:08pm

@AZhar Do not forget that afghans were the last ones to accept Pakistan as a state. Even India accepted Pakistan as a separate state before the afghans did.

Jalbani Baloch Jan 31, 2017 03:35pm

All Afghan refugees, whether born in Pakistan or not, must be repatriated to their Afghanistan, which is their own or ancestral homeland. The demography of Karachi has witnessed many changes right from the very creation of Pakistan and making it now virtually a non-Sindhi speaking city. The Afghans have disturbed the whole culture-mix traditions of this city, which was previously composed of Urdu Speaking (our new Sindhi brothers), Punjabis and Pukhtoons of KPK, but with the advent of Afghan refugees, many adjoining pockets of Karachi give a look more like as Afghan area. The situation is that only central and portions of north Karachi is dominated by Urdu speaking (Sindhis), whereas all the exit points areas starting from Malir in the east to Sohrab Goth to Hub Chowky in the North West to Manora in the South, are dominated by Afghans mixed with Pukhtoons. Therefore, since there is now stability in Afghanistan, all the refugees may be sent back to their country without any delay.

A Khan Jan 31, 2017 03:35pm

If you are born in Pakistan you should be entitled to Pakistani citizenship. So many Pakistani's go to US and their kids were born in US hospitals and received US citizenship so why should we treat Afghans differently. Many who seem to blame Afghan government about us ensuring refugee retain should understand that it is in Afghan and Indian governments interest to see Pakistan is shown in bad light and what better way but by repatriating Afghans living in Pakistan. These Afghans are our asset and through their links and eyes Pakistan will always be regarded high in Afghanistan regardless of their bad mouthing government. Unfortunately our short sighted government cant see this and are playing into the hands of Indian and Afghan Governments by kicking Afghans out. How can we claim to care for them once we kick them out after living here for more then 30 years. You are forcing a man who knows Pakistan as his land to leave, imagine how much hate will he have for you after this.

Imran AB Jan 31, 2017 03:43pm

We need to be fair with the Afghans. There has to be a fair immigration system and a set of rules for the Afghan refugees. After all they have spent so much time here in pakistan and there is a generation or two which was born and raised here.

Riaz Khan Jan 31, 2017 03:40pm

Great piece and well done team DAWN- Fahad, Atika, Jahanzeb, Alyana and Kamran for in depth research based story and highlighting the situation and public miseries across the two countries. The refugees deserve much needed respect with all the basic rights, needs and facilities in any part of the world. Laws should be equally respected.

Raja Farhat Abbas Jan 31, 2017 03:45pm

@chirag ''funny thing is a lot of Pakistanis in the west claim they are from Afghanistan and want political asylum in the west'' you are telling a complete lie here,don't compare with what Trump or the west is doing.It is the Afghans who use Pakistani passports to reach the west then give Pakistan a bad name!!

SI Jan 31, 2017 03:48pm

No matter what, we have to think about our country first. these are only a few examples, let us not forget that Afghans have been involved in terrorist attacks on pakistani soil,

Said khan Jan 31, 2017 03:49pm

I am Pakistani and applied in an European country for asylum. I am in refugee camp here with all basic facilities. I was opposed Afghan refugees in Pakistan but now I know how to deal with refugees. We don't do anything with Afghan refugees in Pakistan.European countries give passport in 5 years to refugees but Afghans passed 37 years and still no passport. This is inhumane.

sunia Jan 31, 2017 04:03pm

well done dawn! these people are ordinary human beings just like us, victims of circumstances beyond their control. i fail to understand how we can be so devoid of empathy. for a country where religion is a strong driving force, i see very little compassion and faith when it comes to afghan refugees.

Asif Jan 31, 2017 04:16pm

Does anyone remembers the words that famed lady said about Pakistan and Pakistanis when she moved back? Those insulting words are enough to send these people back. If we want to stay in peace and don't want people our to die and improve our image in the eyes of the world, this hospitality should end now.

hasrat Jan 31, 2017 04:18pm

Afghan refugees must show theirs loyalty for Pakistan being feed bu by Pakistan since for last 27 years. FATA should merged KPK and GB ought to be FIFTH Province of Pakistan with full liberation and empowerement.

Jamil Soomro, NEW YORK CITY Jan 31, 2017 04:23pm

@Jalbani Baloch You have given the true and accurate picture of the year 2017 of the city of Karachi.

masoud Jan 31, 2017 04:32pm

For Pakistan to tell these Afghan peoples to pack up & go, you came as refugees, you stayed here for so long, whatever little contribution you made here you got fully compensated now it time to go back, well this is one aspect. The other is humanitarian aspect. Although some foreign fed executives of Afghanistan boosts too much and do lot of tall taking, the ground reality is that after going through volatile situation for so long Afghanistan will need at least 20 years more to develop and become a place where its peoples can stay with minimum basics. The refugees staying in Pakistan for so long in a better condition can find themselves it extremely difficult situation if they are made to go now. They are humans, they should not be made to suffer. Therefore the workable alternative is to screen them thoroughly for any link with any terror outfit including RAW, those found clean should be given a chance to live & work in Pakistan under close scrutiny.

Imtiaz Jan 31, 2017 04:37pm

Sorry, I am not convinced. You have over stayed your welcome.

From Jeddah Jan 31, 2017 04:46pm

A very interesting topic. Covered very well. Style of presentation is very good. Opinions are divided but I would say that both the parties are to be blamed for the current situation. A to reach to a good solution we need to take both sides view in to consideration.

usman Jan 31, 2017 04:55pm

Sympathy is expressed in most situations when the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan comes under consideration. Yes Pakistan has suffered the most due to domestic issues in Afghanistan and its but natural we dont appreciate the words expressed for Pakistan by the present day Afghan Government. One must also spare a thought for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis who migrated to various countries world wide and sought refuge. Pakistan refugees were absorbed in those countries and are now living a dignified life as a regular citizen of those countries.

abdulrauf akhtar Jan 31, 2017 04:58pm

Too sad to see families are been teared apart ! but why ? Serious question . Its Afghan Govt n is intelligence (NDS) in collaboration with Indian(RAW) using innocent Afghan peoples to harm Pakistan . Which creates negative impact on the peoples of Pakistan . Millions born in Pakistan they can claim to be Pakistani but are hostage to there own govt which is playing in the hands of Indians .Afghans were n are never considered as foreigners in Pakistan .

Shahzad Ikhlaq Jan 31, 2017 04:57pm

@Said khan Could you pls tell us what circumstances made you seek asylum in a European country where you're currently living as a refugee? Were you in anyway being persecuted in your country or it's just that the charm of Europe has attracted you there? Why not work in your own country and make a living there or immigrate to Europe legally instead of seeking asylum which would make your country look bad in their eyes? Care to enlighten us?

m h Jan 31, 2017 05:31pm

Poor article.

She was happy to accept everything Pakistan had to offer, but then spat in our face and went off to India.

How more ungrateful can one be?

Good riddance to bad rubbish. We need to stop supporting others and focus on our own people.

Khwarazmi Jan 31, 2017 05:28pm

Families who have been living in Pakistan with children being born and lived their entire life in Pakistan should be given full Pakistani citizenship. Refugees must in return cancel their Afghan citizenship and sign under not to travel to Afghanistan for atleast 15 years in these uncertain times of terrorism.

Mudassar Jan 31, 2017 05:41pm

Pakistan as a nation have got a big heart and even at times in the past I have criticized the Afghan refuges but one have to understand and show compassion towards them. We have got a problem with Afghan Government as its dominated by Northern Alliance. Then we should have been more proactive in the set up in the past to ensure that would not have happen. We need to vet them properly and after security clearance let them to stay unless circumstances changes in Afghanistan. How can we expect from fellow human being child who is our neighbour brother in religion who only knows our land gone through our system to go back to alien land. Am sure being refugee is not an easy living and when one only knows one land of birth am sure their loyalties will not be so much different then ours. At times some individuals misbehaved does not mean we just blame all with the same brush.

Saad Jadoon Jan 31, 2017 06:23pm

Its Pakistan's purpose of genesis to accommodate persecuted Muslim regardless of color and geographic boundary. Pakistan is an ideological state and all the Muslims have equal share in it.

Pakistani Jan 31, 2017 06:37pm

I am sure the Indians will help out their allies the Afghans. We have done enough. In fact, more than can be expected.

Dr Hamid Akhtar Jan 31, 2017 06:50pm

I very strongly believe that to save Pakistan we must remove Afghans from Pakistan. They are involved in drug smuggling, loan sharks, sex trade and every kind of criminal activity. Anyone who studies the history of these people knows that they have been doing this for hundreds of years.

They are a tribal people and those outside the tribe are lesser human beings. Just becuase a small minority are educated does not change anything. For us to believe that the Afghans will change is deluded. They are a huge burden on our economy. I challenge any economist to demonstrate anything positive they have contributed to Pakistan.

Gopichand Jan 31, 2017 06:52pm

I am an Indian, I often read Pakistani news papers to understand Pakistan views on some common problems. But I slowly started reading and understanding the lives of Pakistan other than boarder issues with India. This article shows how DAWN is true to journalism and not conceived by over patriotism these days we see in far away and in neighbor countries. Kudos for the team to bringing up stories as these.

Zara Jan 31, 2017 06:53pm

All those condoning the ill treatment of Afghans must remember that they shouldn't complain about what Trump is doing or shouldn't complain about this so called "Muslimban". You lose the right to protest if you think it's acceptable for Afghans refugees to be treated that way.

talat haque Jan 31, 2017 07:05pm

Good job !!!

noor khan Achakzai adv Jan 31, 2017 07:21pm

@Zara well said , agreed

The Right Left Jan 31, 2017 07:36pm

Overly simplistic one aspect of the issue.

The corruption in the system that caused or causes Afghan refugee brothers pain and suffering is not exclusive to them. The same police wala will equally milk as much he can out of any poor Pakistani he can get a hold of and for every Afghan there are ten Pakistanis he has already looted and unjustly jailed etc.

No other country has housed as many refugees for so long. No other country has opened its borders like this for so long. That on top of the fact that Pakistan itself is a poor country with meager resources and an exploding population.

Give respect and credit where it is due.

Muzzamil Jan 31, 2017 07:48pm

Based on the principal of humanity, Pakistan should give them nationality. But Pakistan also needs to educate them so they can contribute positively to the society otherwise there is no point in keeping. The extreme illiteracy in Pakistan and Afghanistan is the reason that polio still exist in the world. Education and religious diversity is the cure for evils such as extremism and poverty in these two countries. I hope these returning Afghans will support democracy in Afghanistan.

Salwa hakam Jan 31, 2017 07:59pm

While criticizing Trump's recent policy towards immigrants and refugees, we loved what Pakistan was doing to its Afghan refugees. The dual and hypocrite behaviour of Pakistanis is saddening. Pakistani Government must use soft measures to send Afghan refugees back home. They should ensure their safety and self-esteem. They are human beings as us, just rambling in the hurricane of war for forty years. Those who are entitled to citizenship, must be granted with it and those who are registered or unregistered, they must be kept an eye on but shouldn't be harassed. Or there is no difference between American policy towards refugees and us.

Sami Jan 31, 2017 08:06pm

Well, some thing in proximity with this is being done by Trump, and we all severely rebuked Trump of his recent actions. A perfect piece of writing depicting the plight of Afghan refugees. We should respond to this issue in a more rational and humanitarian way. I believe we should not horde out Afghans mindlessly but with some regard and rationality. All of our goodwill and hospitality, that we trumpeted in past 30 years in front of world community will go in vain, if we tread this path. It is the responsibility of state to eliminate the odd factors in this community as well as on the Afghan community to point out black sheep among their ranks. Afghans should be given with a choice at least for this one and last time to choose about their country. When we can give amnesty to money launderers and corrupt officials then why we cannot treat Afghans -for only one time- as ours?

Hassaan Jan 31, 2017 08:34pm

Pakistan comes first.

FaiZan aziz Jan 31, 2017 08:53pm

Amazing!

Khan Jan 31, 2017 09:01pm

@Saad Jadoon I believe you're still stuck in 1947 even then the rule only applied to people from United India not for over 1 billion people as you claim .. Please open your eyes that generation and period has passed so are the leaders and sloganeers of that era.

Waleed Jan 31, 2017 09:03pm

It breaks my heart to see this. My prayers are with my afghan brothers and sisters. I hope our government starts looking beyond filling their pockets and bring a real change in the country. Together we are better and together we can fix our country's issues.

The_Truth Jan 31, 2017 09:03pm

Beautifully written . Thanks Dawn. You are The best.

Khan Jan 31, 2017 09:15pm

@AZhar I have lived in Peshawar for most part of my life before moving to the UK and have had many refugee friends but 1) have yet to know a single refugee who would care for Pakistan let alone respect it 2. I have never seen a single of them who would not go back and forth regularly therefore, thinking they have spend their life in Pakistan and have no connection with their country is baseless. 3) When I moved abroad I had to pay all my taxes and millions in fees to keep my self legal .. they have never contributed positively and are burden on the economy and society from so many decades therefore, must be sent back however, GoP can come up with student and business visas and should grant citizenship to those few hundreds or thousands who have got married to our citizens.

Khan Jan 31, 2017 09:22pm

@A Khan There is a separate law for refugees and that doesn't deal with being born in the country .. they were given temporary stay and since the situation in their homeland is much better than Pakistan hence they must be sent back .. they get more investment and has many times less population, millions of them have got free education for generations over here and hence are better equipped to help rebuild their own country. Just a fraction of them have gone back but we have already seen property prices and rents coming down significantly in Peshawar and surrounding areas. Native people must be able to live and have a roof on their head at least.

omairnad Jan 31, 2017 09:24pm

@jack I strongly agree with your opinions on the matter

Khurram Jan 31, 2017 09:28pm

well we must have to keep precious afghani brains such as skillful persons in Pakistan and give them nationality but those brain washed by our enemies must be kept out from Pakistan

Chandra Jan 31, 2017 09:41pm

Travel ban in US is nothing when compared to this.We have no right to criticize or blame Trump.

Irfan Jan 31, 2017 09:49pm

Its high time we muslims specially pakistani muslims consider ourselves muslims first and pakistanis later. In the name of nationality we forget that all Muslims are our own brothers and sisters. We should do as much as we can for Afghanis.

Last Word Jan 31, 2017 10:25pm

An excellent write up. One really gets moved reading the sad plight of Afghan refugees who had made Pakistan their home and living happily here are asked to leave. The worst victims are those who got married here with each other are forced to leave their families behind which should not have been done on humanitarian grounds. Poor and innocent Afghanis are bearing the brunt of two states animosity and suspicion of terrorism. The best solution is that no outside power or country should interfere in Afghanistan as each one of them failed and brought more chaos in the country as well as suffered themselves. Let Afghanis decide their own fate and hopefully peace will prevail in this cursed country.

Hakim Jan 31, 2017 10:44pm

Pakistan's population is 200 million. Surely we can accept 1 to 2 million afghans who have assimilated into Pakistan culture due to being here for a long time in Pakistan. People develop a longing and connection to a place where they have stayed for many years. I am sure their children will grow up to be patriotic Pakistanis. Another option is for the two countries to join together and become one. We are connected in so many ways, religion, culture, food, language, geography etc. A Pak-Afghan empire may be the most sagacious thing to do.

M Y Jan 31, 2017 11:29pm

@Jawad Asif - Strongly agreed , let these people live in the country which they loved and work hard for it.

M Y Jan 31, 2017 11:32pm

@Akil Akhtar ; I know where you come from! These people lived here for long time , worked hard for this country, making or rather earned their living! they belong here, Pak. Government should make arrangement to accommodate these people , they have all right to be here! If for some reason my fellow Pakistanis disagree with me read the history , they part of this land. Don't get me wrong I am not Pashtun either I write based on facts.

Yasir Khan Jan 31, 2017 11:57pm

Well these are very touching stories. At the same time it did give me an understanding why the Afghans or any any other refugees are not given citizenship. I do however feel that we should develop a system where citizenship should be given to those who have been living here for more than 2 generations but still on a case by case basis. . I hope these issues get resolved in a humane way but Pakistan needs to clean Up as we are a developing country and we need to be able to facilitate our people first before we can extend the helping hands.

ConcernedPakistani Feb 01, 2017 12:57am

They should go to India. Their government is spitting venom against Pakistan.Also the Afghanis treat pakistanis so bad when in their country. That is the gift they are giving us after hosting them for more then 30 years. They can not be trusted. Please send them packing.

Pashtun_yousafzai Feb 01, 2017 02:27am

Its soo sad!! thez must be given nationality of Pakistan

Faisal Taquie Feb 01, 2017 04:23am

How is what Pakistan government doing, any different than what Mr. Trump is doing. All those Afghans who were born here or have lived for decades must be able to apply for Pak citizenship.

Abx Feb 01, 2017 04:52am

Afghans can go to super power india

ADNAN MAZHER khan Feb 01, 2017 05:35am

Lets send Afghan refugees to India which is their most trusted friend.

Hmmm... Feb 01, 2017 07:14am

How about Pakistanis have to go from USA, EU and other nations? later you can say Afgans have to go!

Pakistani Feb 01, 2017 08:10am

Please go back just ho back

MS Feb 01, 2017 08:50am

Afghans are our brothers, we should provide permanent resident permits to them. Once the occupation forces depart from Afghanistan they can go back and live with dignity.

Zubin Feb 01, 2017 08:53am

For Pakistanis they have to understand that these refugees were created by them by interfering in their countries affair...

Sukhera Feb 01, 2017 09:17am

I have a great respect for the hardworking Afghans who are caught in the vicious circle of poverty, war in their homeland and current unfriendly environment in Pakistan. Afghani women married to Pakistanis should not be deported to Afghanistan because that will break up the family and create hardship. They should be granted citizenship. Afghans married to Pakistani women should not be deported either. We must fix this problem and the authorities should stop harassing these law abiding afghans. Afghans who have set up businesses and have hired/provided jobs to Pakistanis should also be granted citizenship.They have suffered enough and they have been living here for decades. Some of these stories of real people are heart wrenching and we must help them anyway we can.

Masood Feb 01, 2017 09:19am

@PARVEZ CHOWDHURY : Absolutely wrong. We have nothing in common with them. They are totally different people. We are closer to Indians than Afghans or Iranians. The only common factor is religion. Being a good neighbor, we helped them during the hard times, that does not mean that they can change our identities. We are Pakistanis and they are Afghans simple as that.

Mehmood Feb 01, 2017 09:34am

We are very hypocrites. We want trump to keep immigration open for us but are not willing to reciprocate same right to afghans. Throughout human history people have migrated. It's basic human right. We don't care for our own rules under which afghans can apply for Pakistani citizenship. Afghans are our brothers we are Afghan (Pakhtuns). I am all for afghans to stay here. we should share our Resourses with them.

vasudevan Feb 01, 2017 02:07pm

Sad plight of the Afghan refugees but for how long can Pakistan host them? They will have to leave one day

Arshad Feb 01, 2017 05:41pm

Very Nice Article. Afghan Refugees are stuck in hardships with very less sympathizers.

Karachiite Feb 03, 2017 07:25pm

The place you're born in and live in for the first ten or fifteen years of your life carries an immense importance for you. I know that most of the Dawn readers might not realise this, owing to the lack of contact they may have with the Afghans but you cannot hate the land or the people of your birthplace. We're simply wired that way. Accepting, welcoming and supporting the people born here despite their parents' lineage is something that we should do. However, expecting anything from this government is honestly stupid. But at least we can support the people who're benefiting our economy right?

Just Someone Feb 06, 2017 07:25pm

We need a balanced approach to reduce the human suffering.

Just Someone Feb 06, 2017 07:30pm

I wish that the Afghan govt. was not so anti-Pakistan, not just now, but right from the time when Pakistan became independent.