Afghans villain of peace in Balochistan
August 03, 2012
War, instability, insecurity and law and order situation forced millions of Afghans to migrate to Pakistan and stay in its two provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Later they became a threat to economy, peace and culture of Pakistan. It is a fact that a refugee in a host country earns livelihood and develops relations with local people but always remembers his motherland. The series of wars and conflicts has forced the world to give priority to the refugees’ issue. These refugees used to create difficulties and problems for host countries and bring with them hunger, poverty, sexual and other social crimes.
On the one hand, the unabated war over the past three decades and unrest in Afghanistan has affected its social, political and cultural values, on the other they have impacted on the economy, peace and culture of Balochistan which has been hosting about four million Afghan refugees since 1979 to onward. The nationalist political parties of Balochistan term these Afghan refugees the major cause of problems of Balochistan and have been repeatedly demanding their immediate repatriation to Afghanistan. “When the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan, we welcomed these Afghan refugees in our land, but now we cannot afford their further stay as their years-long stay in our province has created a lot of problems for our people including unemployment, poverty, insecurity, rising heinous crimes and poor peace,” the nationalist politicians opined. He demand repatriation of Afghan refugees from Balochistan with immediate effect so that they could play their due role in the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation in their homeland.
Mr. Neil Right, the head of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, while addressing a press conference in Quetta on 18th July 2012 said that security was not hindering the peaceful repatriation of Afghan refugees but the issues of unemployment and financial problems. He noted that this year about 40,000 Afghan refugees returned to their country from Pakistan including 10,000 from Balochistan. He said since 2002 to onward, about 3.7 million Afghan refugees returned to their country from Pakistan and a total of 5.1 million have repatriated to Afghanistan from different host counties so far.
Mr. Right said that presently Pakistan is hosting about seven million Afghan refugees of which 350,000 have been residing in refugees camps and other settlements set up in Balochistan. He said his organization, UNHCR, had been providing facilities to these refugees in respect of food, education, hygiene and health and repatriation. The country chief of UNHCR mentioned that under the project of “Border Regional Solution for Afghan Refugees” inked by the governments of all three countries of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, the UNHCR has been implementing its programs of RAHA. He added that RAHA has also been launched in six districts of Balochistan which have been hosting Afghan refugees from Quetta, Pishin, Qila Abdullah, Loralai and Qila Saifullah.
Replying to a question, Mr. Right said about 2,500 refugees belonging to Nepal, Africa and other countries have also been living in Pakistan. On this occasion, the UNHCR Balochistan head Mr. Charles said that his organization had established four Voluntary Repatriation Centers in Pakistan for smooth repatriation of Afghan refugees. He said one of these centers is functioning in Balili area of Quetta where every Afghan refugee is given US $ 150 if he or she is ready to return to repatriate. Commissioner Afghan Refugees Balochistan Abdul Sabboor Kakar has urged the international community to play its significant role for restoration of peace in Afghanistan as unrest and instability in that country has become a major obstacle in repatriation of Afghan refugees. He said the world should extend cooperation to Pakistan who has been hosting million of Afghan refugees over the past three decades.
Leading Baloch nationalist political parties of Balochistan including National Party (NP) and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) have rejected the statement of the UNHCR which said that the number of Afghan refugees living in Balochistan is 350,000. “Currently, Balochistan is suffering a lot of problems in respect of economy, culture, politics, peace and others due to stay and settlement of four million Afghan refugees in the province,” Agha Hassan, the Secretary Information BNP-M claimed. He alleged that in connivance with some local elements, many of these Afghan refugees had obtained Pakistani Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) and local certificates in Balochistan and now they have been showing themselves as Pakistani nationals. He said it was better if these refugees were confined to the refugees camps.
He said the names of these Afghan refugees have been listed in the lists of national census and electoral lists and they have been provided permanent settlements in different parts of Balochistan under a conspiracy. He was of the opinion that if the authorities want end to target killings, kidnappings for ransom, Kalashnikov culture, drug peddling and other heinous crimes, then they would have to ensure the repatriation of these millions of Afghan refugees from Balochistan with immediate effect. He said hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees are living in rural settlements instead of refugees camps in Balochistan. He said the Afghan refugees had established seven permanent settlements in Quetta and several others in other districts of the province. He accused that the leaders of these Afghan refugees were involved in bogus registration with the UNHCR and the Government of Pakistan besides selling the ration and food and other items out in local bazaars.
He further blamed that some personnel of UNHCR Balochistan were involved in malpractice of giving ration and other food items to Afghan refugees after getting money from them instead of providing these items free of cost. Hassan alleged that Afghan refugees’ camps in Balochistan have been giving protection and stay to some saboteurs, professional killers and notorious criminals while these camps are given weapons and ammunition from criminal mafias. He said the Afghan refugees had established open markets of illegal weapons and ammunition in cities of Balochistan including Chaman, Gulistan, Panjpai and Dalbandin where a person could easily get a Kalashnikov, G-3 rifle, rocket launcher, hand grenade, revolver, short gun, 7mm rifle and cartridges.
The BNP-M leader also alleged that some Afghan refugees after preparing hashish and other narcotics in the refugees’ camps in Chaman and Gulistan areas of Balochistan smuggle drugs to other parts of the country. These refugees after occupying business of transport, medicines, jewelry, grocery, hotels and restaurants have decreased opportunities of employment for the local people of Balochistan. “The Afghan refugees have become owners of shops and business in the markets of the provincial capital of Quetta including Sariab Road, Qazafi Market, Junction Market, Wadood Market and others,” said Agha. He said these refugees after getting Pakistani CNIC and local certificate have established their own permanent settlements in rural areas of Balochistan. He said the refugees were involved in heinous crimes of robbery, car-lifting and anti-peace activities.
The BNP-M leader blamed that all factions of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) have been patronizing Afghan refugees in order to increase their vote bank. He recalled that both the Baloch and Pashtoon nationalities have been living together in Balochistan for centuries but they never expressed hatred against each other. He said that now Afghan refugees have become a cause of spread of hatred between these two nationalities. He demanded that a ban be placed on the Afghan refugees to purchase property and attending public meetings of local political parties in Balochistan.
Meanwhile, serious Baloch intellectual circles have disliked the statements of political leaders against Afghan refugees in the name of census, voter lists and local certificate. They opined that Baloch nationalist political parties should work on scientific basis in order to avoid hatred between the Baloch and Afghan people. These intellectuals are in favour of promoting the Baloch philosophy of “We are loyal to a person for 100 years who served us a cup of water when we were thirsty”. These Baloch intellectuals also urge the Baloch nationalists to keep in mind that thousands of people of Baloch tribes including Marri, Bugti and Mengal have been living in Afghanistan.