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When discussing Afghan immigrants in Pakistan, handling the subject with sensitivity and thoroughly comprehending the intricate dynamics involved is crucial. Even though Afghanistan has been experiencing continuous conflict and instability, causing many Afghans to seek refuge in nearby countries such as Pakistan, it’s crucial to consider the wider context and the difficulties faced by Afghan refugees and Pakistan.
Here are some key points to consider when discussing the presence of Afghan immigrants in Pakistan:
Pakistan has a long history of hosting Afghan refugees, dating back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees at various times, showing hospitality and solidarity during times of crisis.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Pakistan is recognized as one of the significant hosting countries globally. It is estimated that the region currently hosts many individuals who have sought legal refuge and asylum, with approximately 1.33 million individuals holding PoR cards and asylum seeker status. A significant number of these refugees originate from Afghanistan. Furthermore, it is estimated that around 840,000 Afghans possess Afghan Citizen Cards (ACCs), while an additional 775,000 Afghans reside within the borders of Pakistan without formal documentation.
When examining the distribution of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, it becomes apparent that the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hosts many of them. This particular region is home to a significant portion, approximately 52%, of the total Afghan refugee population. Balochistan ranks second with a population share of 24.1 percent, while Punjab holds a population share of 14.3 percent. The percentage stands at 5.4 percent in Sindh, with Karachi being the city that accommodates the most displaced individuals in the province. Approximately 3.1% of Afghan refugees are currently residing in Islamabad.
Hosting a large refugee population can strain a host country's resources such as healthcare, education, and public services. This is indeed a challenge for Pakistan as it hosts many Afghan refugees. However, it's important to recognize that the Afghan refugees have also significantly stimulated Pakistan's economy through their labor and various businesses.
The presence of Afghan immigrants has been connected with security concerns, as it can be difficult to differentiate between refugees and potential militants. Pakistan has valid security concerns and has implemented measures to address these issues while attempting to aid genuine refugees.
Refugees frequently encounter several obstacles when it comes to assimilating into a new society. It may be difficult for them to fully participate in the Pakistani community because to obstacles such as the language barrier, cultural differences, and discrimination.
The international community recognizes the importance of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to refugees. Pakistan has played a crucial role in this and has worked with global organisations to support Afghan refugees.
Pakistan has also facilitated the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees when conditions in Afghanistan have improved. The repatriation process is complex and should be carried out in a way that respects the rights and dignity of refugees.
While hosting a large population of Afghan refugees does pose challenges for Pakistan, it's essential to view this issue within the broader humanitarian context. Pakistan has a history of providing refuge to Afghans during their times of need, and it has also worked with the international community to address the challenges associated with hosting refugees. Balancing security concerns, economic strain, and humanitarian considerations requires a nuanced and compassionate approach.