Ashraf Ghani’s lollipop

THE latest statement of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that his country would bring back refugees from Pakistan in two years is re-confirmation of the ground reality that Kabul government is least interested in repatriation of refugees and their rehabilitation. Claiming that it was his first priority, Ghani said he wanted to dispel the impression that Afghan refugees were a threat to peace and stability of the region.
Afghan President’s remarks come in the wake of a strong case made by Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa during his address to Munich Security Conference vis-à-vis the country’s efforts to address the challenge of terrorism, telling his audience that repatriation of Afghan refugees was the key to eradication of terrorism from the region. He said there are active and sleeper cells of terrorists in Pakistan, hiding in mountains and 54 Afghan refugee camps and that concentration of 2.7 million refugees is regularly used by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Haqqani Network to recruit, morph and melt. Pakistan has long been sensitising the international community on the negative side of the refugee issue but unfortunately both Afghan government and influential members of the global community have shown least concern about resolution of this problem. This seems to be no priority for them despite verbal claims by Ashraf Ghani who, instead of making urgent plans to bring refugees back to Afghanistan for rehabilitation, is befooling the international community that it would be done in two years. There is little hope that Afghanistan is sincere in its latest claim because it has shown no interest in their repatriation during the last over four decades. He did not elaborate what change he expects to take place in Afghanistan during the next two years that would serve as an incentive for refugees to go back from Pakistan and Iran. If 35 million Afghans can live in Afghanistan despite conflict and instability then there is no reason why 2.7 million refugees cannot live there. It is also a fact that many of the refugees went to Afghanistan and returned to Pakistan and that is why most of them are unregistered and avoid being registered. Anyhow, the refugees must be sent back without further delay and let Afghan government and coalition forces establish camps for them inside Afghanistan if conditions are not ripe for them to return to their ancestral homes.

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