Afghans want to stay in Pakistan
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE: “I will stay in Pakistan and never return to Afghanistan because of the extremely poor conditions there,” Ajab Shah, an Afghan citizen, told Daily Times on Tuesday.
Ajab had lived in Kabul and had come to Pakistan with his family members after the Russian invasion when he was 22. He said that his family now had their own businesses in Lahore and did not want to return. “All of us have our national identity cards and Pakistani passports. We do not want return to the hunger and poverty of Afghanistan,” Shah said. Ajab Shah is not the only Afghan with a Pakistani nationality. Thousands of Afghans are living and working in Pakistan and do not want to leave.
Baeedullah, a resident of Mazar Sharif, is another Afghan who fled with his family after the Russain invasion. He said he was unable to provide food for his family during the war and had finally decided to migrate to Pakistan. He now has six children and he doesn’t want to go back because he is afraid of the poor living conditions in Afghanistan. “There are no jobs, no food or any opportunity in Afghanistan so why should I go back?” Baeed argued.
There are a lot of Afghanis who have made Pakistan their permanent home and want to stay here. Although 1.9 million Afghan refugees have returned since 2002 under the UNHCR repatriation process, the majority do not want to return to their homeland and have established businesses in Pakistan.
Afghan refugees have established a number of business in the metropolis, including street vending, boot polishing and garbage collection. The Afghan refugees have also been involved in a number of illegal activities including kidnapping, contract killing and drug trafficking.
Numerous non-government organisations (NGOs) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are working for their return and rehabilitation but the majority are refusing to go saying that there was no business opportunity nor any security there.
However, High Commissioner for Afghan Refugees officials said that a census of Afghan Refugees would start in this regard on February 23, 2005.