Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for more than 30 years – one of the longest-running refugee problems in the world – but will cancel their status as 'refugees' by the end of the year.
Pakistan plans to cancel refugee status at the end of this year for the 3 million Afghans who are living in the country, officials have told McClatchy, leaving the refugees facing possible forced resettlement in their homeland, a war-torn country that many of them barely know.
Pushing the refugees into Afghanistan probably would create a new crisis for that country, which already is struggling with an insurgency, an economy almost entirely dependent on the US-led foreign presence and the illicit drug trade, and the impending withdrawal of foreign combat troops by 2014.
Officials in Pakistan, which has hosted Afghan refugees for more than 30 years – one of the longest-running refugee problems in the world – say that “enough is enough” and are resisting entreaties by the United Nations and others to reconsider the decision. It comes as Islamabad’s relations with Western countries, particularly the United States, have soured over its policies in neighboring Afghanistan and the unannounced US raid on Pakistani soil that killed Osama bin Laden last year.
Pakistan’s top administrator in charge of the Afghan refugee issue, Habibullah Khan, the secretary of the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, said Islamabad wouldn’t change its decision.
“The international community desires us to review this policy, but we are clear on this point. The refugees have become a threat to law and order, security, demography, economy and local culture,” Khan said in an interview. “Enough is enough.”
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