Afghan refugees hold rally, want to settle in developed countries

Published May 24, 2022
Afghan refugees scuffle with police during their protest rally near parade ground on Monday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Afghan refugees scuffle with police during their protest rally near parade ground on Monday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of Afghan nationals on Monday staged a protest rally in Islamabad to get shelters in developed countries saying they don’t want to go back to their country being governed by Taliban.

The Afghan nationals, who have been camping outside the National Press Club for the last several weeks, brought out the rally from the press club to D-Chowk.

Some of the protesters Dawn spoke to said they were insecure under the Taliban government that’s why they left their country.

“We are here and want to get settled in any developed country. So far, we are not being given the status of refugees here,” said Alyas Zaki, a protester.

He said Pakistan was also not providing asylum to them, adding: “We know people of Pakistan are also facing several challenges such as unemployment and high inflation, therefore, frankly speaking, we want to stay in any developed country,” he said.

Another protester, Mir Waiz, said after the takeover by Taliban last year, thousands of Afghan nationals came to Pakistan and were now facing issues of documentation as Pakistan, it seems, is not going to provide asylum to them. He urged the developed countries to look into the issues of Afghans who along with their families were moving from one place to other.

Many of the protesters were wearing white shrouds inscribed with the slogan “kill us, kill us”.

The protesters, most of them unable to speak Urdu or English, seemed committed to their cause. Some elderly people on wheelchairs were also part of the protest.

“I don’t want to go back; I will stay here or any other country but will not go back to Kabul because of life threats,” said 50-year-old Habiba, who along with her four daughters moved from Kabul to Islamabad.

She said his husband was a police official but since the takeover of Kabul by the Taliban he has been missing.

It may be noted that Pakistan has already been hosting around 1.5 million Afghan refugees for decades.

Published in Dawn,May 24th, 2022

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