Strange US demand

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AS Pakistan is still striving hard to cope with the socio-economic consequences of hosting a large number of Afghan refugees for decades, the United States has made a strange demand that the country should keep its borders open for a fresh influx in view of the emerging situation in the neighbouring country.

A senior State Department official while briefing journalists on the new US refugee admission programme for Afghan nationals said the US policy makers look at Pakistan to help them implement this programme.

In the past, Pakistan adopted a liberal policy vis-à-vis Afghan refugees to help mitigate threats to their lives but regrettably the world community left the country at the mercy of circumstances as international financial support for upkeep of such a large number of refugees dwindled with the passage of time and there was no compensation for the socio-economic losses caused by presence of these refugees on Pakistani soil for a protracted period.

As the situation in Afghanistan is quite uncertain, Pakistan has taken a timely decision to keep a close vigil on its border with Afghanistan and if needed, the refugees would be settled in border camps.

The demand of the United States is devoid of morality and a reflection of the double standards as Washington itself is not ready to welcome the real refugees and has drawn a plan to accommodate only those Afghan nationals who, during American occupation of Afghanistan, rendered services for the occupation troops.

And even this plan is contingent upon their 14-month stay in Turkey before they are resettled in the United States, a proposition that Ankara has flatly rejected advising Washington to transport them directly to the US by planes.

Pakistan National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has justifiably emphasized that arrangements should be made to keep displaced Afghans inside their country instead of pushing them into Pakistan as the country has no capacity to accept more refugees.

We hope our policy and decision-makers will resist the US pressure and convince the world to create UN-supervised buffer zones on Afghan side of the border to accommodate refugees.

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