Row over refugees causes rift in Af-Pak relations

Dispute over Afghan refugees in Pakistan has caused a rift between two neighbors that have recently shown signs of warmness in their usually cold and tense ties.

Row over refugees causes rift in Af-Pak relations

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Four diplomats, among scores of Afghan nationals, were detained by policemen in Pakistan’s Peshawar city last week. The incident irked the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs that summoned Pakistan’s ambassador on Sunday.

“Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul Sayed Abrar Hussain was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Afghanistan in connection with the arrest and harassment of four of the Afghan Consulate General diplomats in Peshawar by the Pakistani police,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The diplomats were identified as the Third Secretary Abdul Hameed Wahidi, Transport Officer Ghulam Sakhi Azeemi, Refugees Affairs Officers Dr Alozai and Noor Ahmad Haqjo stationed at the Peshawar-based Afghanistan Consulate General.

Security forces in Pakistan have tightened their grip around undocumented Afghan refugees who have been living in Pakistan for decades. The border region of the two countries is inhabited by ethnic Pashtuns who share a common history and culture.

According to the IOM, there are approximately three million Afghans living in Pakistan – one of the world’s largest host countries for displaced persons. Of these, more than one million are estimated to be undocumented and lacking any legal protection.

Hekmat Khalil Karzai, the Afghan deputy foreign minister, lodged a strong protest with Pakistani envoy over the arrest of Afghan diplomats in Peshawar.

He called it a "blatant violation of the principle of diplomatic relations."

The Afghan deputy foreign minister added that cooperation and relations between the two countries entered a new phase and it should not be strained by such acts.

The statement from the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the Pakistani envoy assured Afghan authorities that he would take up the issue with his country’s authorities so that they can take the necessary measures.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Mart 2015, 18:13