Afghan refugees harassed, driven from Pakistan

Afghan refugees who have lived in Pakistan for decades are now being driven out of the country in a wave of harassment by officials

Afghan refugees harassed, driven from Pakistan

World Bulletin / News Desk

Pakistan’s large population of Afghans have lived there for many years and are considered at the margins of society, however a report by Human Rights Watch has said that police intimidation sharply increased after the Pakistani Taliban massacre of more than 130 schoolboys at Peshawar’s Army Public School in December in a report by The Guardian.

Although authorities found nothing to link any of the 2.5 million Afghans living in Pakistan to the killings, refugees complain of being singled out by police.

Many of the 96 Afghans interviewed by HRW in both Pakistan and Afghanistan described house raids by police, random arrests and the demolition of property.

In one incident, an entire market in Peshawar populated by Afghan stallholders was destroyed without notice in September. “The police officers took away all my vegetables and demolished my shop,” Jalal Shah, a 50-year-old Afghan man who now sells his wares on the street, told the rights group. “The police say that we Afghans have no right to be here and do business.”

Another common practice is the extortion of cash from the Afghans, where nearly a million are undocumented and have no legal right to remain in Pakistan. “I can no longer afford to pay the bribes,” said Karim, a 42-year-old living in Peshawar. “The police ask for bribes daily. The district administration fines us for no reason.”

Many Afghans said rampant extortion had forced them to return to Afghanistan because they could no longer support themselves and their families in Pakistan.

Despite the increasinghostility towards them, many of the Afghan refugees are reluctant to return to Afghanistan at a time as both security and the economy have deteriorated since US-led combat operations came to an official end.

Pakistan has one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Nearly half of Afghans there arrived shortly after Soviet troops took over Afghanistan in December 1979. Pakistan’s government encourage them to settle in large camps near the border.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Kasım 2015, 09:50