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Afghan refugees’ mistreatment: Serious talks with Pakistan urged

Afghan refugees’ mistreatment: Serious talks with Pakistan urged

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21 Nov 2022 - 19:00
Afghan refugees’ mistreatment: Serious talks with Pakistan urged
author avatar
21 Nov 2022 - 19:00

KABUL (Pajhwok):  Analysts and participants of Pajhwok’s Tanazor programme on Twitter stressed the need for serious talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the mistreatment and arrest of Afghan refugees. They urged relevant international organisations to put pressure on Pakistan to sort out the problem.

The last night discussion started at 5:30pm Afghanistan time and continued for at least two hours. About 708 people listened the programme live and six analysts expressed their views about the issue and dozens of other participants shared their comments.

Abdul Hamid Jalili, former attaché of Afghan refugees at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Consulate, said the Afghans who travelled to Pakistan on visas after the regime change in Kabul were now in a great trouble as their visas had expired.

“Afghans who go to Pakistan through Spin Boldak-Chaman crossing are severely harassed, they are robbed of money and imprisoned. We can say thousands of Afghans are put behind bars in Pakistan. They include children, women and the elderly.”

Jalili said Pakistan was not a signatory to all the protocols and conventions of the 1950s and 1960s on refugees presented in the United Nations. “It means Pakistan does not consider itself obligated to the rights of refugees, but the country gets privileges in the name of refugees”.

Haji Nazar Khogyani, a tribal leader in Kohat district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, also said that Pakistani police in Sindh province robbed Afghans of their personal belongings and money and imprisoned them.

“The detained individuals also include businessmen, students, doctors and other professionals.”

He said currently 1,370 Afghan refugees, some having PoR (Proof of Registration) cards, were held in the Central Jail of Peshawar, 1,700 prisoners in Karachi central jail, 800 in Malir jail, Karachi. “There are also prisoners in Super Highway Gadap Jail and up to 400 women have been arrested in one district of Punjab”.

The elder said mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Pakistan had increased following the clashes between the border forces of the two countries.

Khogyani said: “Afghanistan’s ambassador and consul general do not ask Pakistan regarding the situation of Afghan refugees, nor the minister of refugees asks about the Afghan prisoners, however the efforts of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement in getting released Afghan prisoners are unparalleled.”

He said the Taliban government should hold serious talks with Pakistan regarding the plight of Afghan refugees in the country.

Two days ago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan condemned the mistreatment of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and strongly requested the neighboring country to prevent it. The ministry said it had tried, but the problem remained unaddressed.

Subhanullah Mesbah, vice president of the Afghanistan Lawyers Association, said the basic rights of Afghans in Pakistan were violated for the past 40 years.

“Pakistan recently warned overstaying migrants of three years jail time under a 1946 law and arrested some Afghans against the 13th and 14th articles of the Declaration of Human Rights and the 1951 Convention on Refugees. The arrests are also in conflict with the UN Charter and international protocols.”

He said mistreatment of Afghans in Pakistan was increasing due to the silence of the United Nations High Commissioner, the Afghan caretaker government and the international community.

He suggested the matter should be reported to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and asked the international community to put pressure on Pakistan and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to fulfill its responsibility.

He believed the Afghans would continue to face such problems until a constitution was established in Afghanistan because the country did not have a representative at the world level, a coordinator in the United Nations and an ambassador in Pakistan.

“The Afghan government must share this issue with Pakistan through the United Nations and submit complaints to the UN Security Council”.

Legal affairs analyst Sayed Khalid Sadat said Pakistan recently announced it would award three years jail sentence to visa-less migrants after December 31.

“Unfortunately, Afghanistan is currently not in a position to solve the issue of refugees in the light of international law … the current ruling group cannot move forward according to the international law because it has not been officially recognized. For political reasons, Pakistan and Iran have always used Afghan refugees against the Afghans as a pressure tool”.

He said Afghans in Pakistan always faced violence which had recently increased because the international community had stopped giving aid to Pakistan for refugees. “Another issue is that the Pakistani police use every tactic to extract money from Afghans.”

Another analyst Aminullah Shariq said Pakistan had halted the registration process of Afghan refugees with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the agency was no longer issuing immigration documents to Afghans.

“When Pakistan enters a problem with the central government of Afghanistan, it forcibly expels refugees.” He alleged Pakistan used such tactics to put pressure on Afghanistan to accept its demands.

Human Rights activist Hashmat Wejdani claimed the administration of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan was rife with corruption.

He says: “When refugees register with SHARP (Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid), the NGO delays the process and finally makes a call to the applicants that if you want to be interviewed soon, you should pay three hundred dollars.”

Wish such tactics, he said, Pakistan wanted the international community to give it privileges over Afghan refugees like the past.

Wejdani also asked the Afghan government to talk to Pakistan and find a solution to the problems of Afghan refugees there.

Syed Liaqat Banuri, an official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan, denied the accusations leveled against the agency.

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