Afghan Refugees: Pakistan’s Exploitation of Afghanistan’s Vulnerabilities


Afghan refugee deported by Pakistani authorities to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Photo: @private

By Shahmahmood Miakhel

Afghans are confronting multiple crises nowadays. The ruling Taliban militant group does not have national or international legitimacy, and Afghans are facing enormous challenges internally due to the authoritarian rule of the Taliban. Half of Afghanistan’s population, women, are deprived of their basic rights of education, work, and freedom. The recent earthquake in western Herat province killed over 3,000 people and displaced over 30,000. Afghanistan is facing acute drought and poverty. At the same time, Pakistan is trying to exploit Afghanistan’s Achilles heel. Against international laws and refugee conventions, it wants to deport 1.2 million Afghans by force. 

Unfortunately, via their proxy groups, the Taliban, Afghanistan’s neighbors are attempting to take advantage of this vacuum by destroying and stealing the country’s natural resources, including its mines, forests, historical artifacts, and military hardware. 

Human rights are being flagrantly violated, as seen by recent videos and documents making the rounds on social media and the accounts I receive from the Afghan people on the ground. Furthermore, in the past few decades, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors—Pakistan nor Iran—has treated Afghans humanely. In addition to dehumanizing, abusing, and imprisoning Afghan women, children, and the elderly, they have also begun looting and seizing their assets.

In light of all international norms, some international humanitarian organizations and the UN demand that Pakistan cease its mistreatment of Afghan refugees. However, despite its claims to be a kind neighbor, Pakistan violently imprisons, steals from, tortures, and forces Afghans to return to their homeland. The Taliban have chosen to remain silent within Afghanistan in response to their heinous deeds, and they frequently give the impression that they are working with the two nations to persecute the Afghan people.

An apparent and outstanding example is the Taliban consul in Peshawar publicly declaring at the Center for Regional Studies in Peshawar that they love Pakistan and never denounce Pakistan’s activities against Afghans. In a later televised appearance, he added, saying he has no problem with Pakistan’s treatment of refugees.

Because there is currently no clear and coordinated movement outside of Afghanistan and an unlawful armed group ruling inside the country, Afghans are unable to protect their rights. However, Afghans living overseas are likewise not disciplined or reliable enough to stand up for themselves internationally. Consequently, it makes sense that Afghanistan and Afghans would not be able to adequately protect their rights on the international scene in the absence of a legitimate and lawful administration.

If we remain mute in the face of this enormous tragedy, it will be an indication of a dead nation. Silence and apathy are signs of dead people. For this reason, it is essential that Afghans living in the diaspora band together and use mass and social media to denounce the mistreatment of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen in Iran and Pakistan. They should also strongly denounce Pakistan’s recent actions, as well as its tyranny, violations, and looting of money and property. 

The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan had generally friendly relations, despite recent decades having seen difficulties between their governments. While Afghans carried on with their regular lives and jobs in Pakistan, tens of thousands of Pakistanis were employed in Afghanistan. There were no problems with the general public. Since such actions will sour relations between the people of both countries, Pakistan’s civic associations, political parties, and powerful national figures should speak out against the decisions made by the country’s establishment, denounce it, and, if at all possible, oppose the caretaker government that is backed by the Pakistani military.

Additionally, it is crucial that Pashtuns and Baloch residing on both sides of the fictitious Durand Line take a stand against Pakistan to protect their fellow Afghans who live on the other side of the line, which is not recognized by any Afghan government yet. 

Nations face difficult times. We shall overcome our shared struggles and setbacks as a cohesive unit. There is no denying that history observes and documents everything and that Afghans are currently unable to effectively protect their rights due to a number of domestic and international issues. However, Afghans will undoubtedly rise up again to stand up for their rights and demand an investigation into the crimes committed by Iran and Pakistan against Afghan refugees. 

Shahmahmood Miakhel is the former Governor of Nangarhar Province, currently leading Pro-Democratic Movement of Afghanistan (PDMA) (جمهوري غوښتونکو خوځښت). 

Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles. 

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