No state allows free floating of illegal immigrants in the garb of refugees. Not even the trusted friendly neighboring countries! Why then few critiques of a peculiar brand are criticizing Pakistan for tightening the noose around illegal immigrants? Pakistan might be the only country in the present era which hosted the Afghan refugees in an unprecedented gracious manner. One can see them in all provinces; doing various businesses and living peacefully. Unfortunately, a lawful crackdown on all sorts of illegal immigrants is being misinterpreted as an Afghan-specific operation. The most obvious reason behind the irked criticism is nothing but the extraordinary number of illegal Afghan immigrants in Pakistan. The matter is quite serious and merits deliberation based on ground facts-:
Pakistan’s Lawful Approach on Illegal Immigrants
One: The decision to deport the illegal immigrants is not aimed at any specific ethnicity or nationality.
Two: None of the registered refugees having legal documents is being deported.
Three: An ample warning of one month duration was announced prior to the crackdown on violators of immigration laws.
Four: As evident from the repeated official statements; the State of Pakistan is fully abiding by the international laws, and UNHRC conventions related to refugees.
Afghan Refugees: Generous and Accommodative Approach of Pakistan
One: Pakistan warmly welcomed Afghan refugees in the post-Soviet Invasion era so the history of unprecedented hosting is stretched over 45 years.
Two: Unlike international precedence; Afghan refugees were not confined to refugee camps which reflects the sense of brotherhood and sympathetic hosting.
Three: Afghan students are the major beneficiaries of scholarship schemes in Pakistani universities.
Four: Pakistan played leading advocacy role for the welfare of Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds though none of the country has accepted the IAG takeover as a legitimate rule.
Five: Despite the alarming surge of Afghans with their count reaching to 4 million spread all across Pakistan, the recent deportation drive is only focused on those 1.7 million illegals who are avoiding the registration process.
Six: Afghans are peacefully living in Urban and semi-urban areas and engaged in multiple commercial activities in stress-free environment.
Seven: Deportation is taking place in an organized manner. Transit centers have been established by the provincial governments to ensure decent smoothly executed departure. The Prime Minister and cabinet members are repeatedly clarifying the misconceptions with media interaction on the subject.
Security Compulsions, Banned TTP Factor and Non-Cooperative Approach of IAG
Pakistan has zero-tolerance policy towards all brands of terrorism. The remarkable role of Pakistan in war on terror and the supreme sacrifices of nation has been internationally acknowledged. The presence of banned TTP escapees in Afghan safe havens is an undeniable fact. Major terrorist attacks including heart-wrenching heinous APS Peshawar carnage were planned and executed against Pakistan from Afghan soil. A few bitter facts must not be ignored while commenting upon the recent deportation drive announced by Pakistan-:
One: Banned TTP, being a hardcore terrorist organization, is responsible for inhuman blood bath in Pakistan.
Two: Masterminds of terrorism against Pakistan are enjoying the safe havens in Afghanistan.
Three: The state of Pakistan cannot turn a blind eye on banned TTP and its splinter terrorist groups. This policy has been conveyed to IAG through multiple channels.
Four: Terrorism surge especially TTP acclaimed cross-border attacks from Afghanistan after IAG take over are a matter of real concern for Pakistan.
Five: The growing involvement of Afghans in terrorist attacks detected amid investigations is enough a reason for Pakistan to shift the spotlight on illegal Afghans hiding in least visible folds of society.
Six: The role of IAG in the elimination of anti-Pakistan terrorist groups from Afghanistan is neither appreciable nor satisfactory. A few statements of responsible officeholders are quite irritating. Blatant denial of Pakistan’s concerns about the active presence of TTP on Afghan soil is not an appropriate act of IAG and continuation of this policy may spoil the fragile regional peace vis-à-vis bilateral ties.
Misplaced Criticism, Human Rights Angling and Over-Exaggeration
Criticism on deportation policy revolves around the plight of illegal immigrants, birthplace citizenship rights, and bleak prospects for deported Afghans amid the orthodoxy of IAG. Most of the criticism is undue and inapt. Let’s have a critical glance.
One: Pakistan is exercising an internationally acknowledged right which authorizes a state to detect, arrest, and deport illegal immigrants.
Two: Pakistan is not deporting the legally registered refugees but certain quarters including self-styled activists are adamant to twist the issue of violation of refugee conventions. Such exaggerations and angling have snatched the objectivity from the criticism.
Three: Critics have ignored that Pakistan is assisting all those Afghans who are seeking visas to move abroad. Likewise, the Afghans threatened by the IAG for having connections with Western countries are exempted from deportation.
Four: Surprisingly West influenced quarters are not questioning the US, UK, and other NATO members for leaving behind their Afghan supporters and meaningfully delaying their promised settlement in respective countries.
Five: While creating the hype as a fashion or trend; few analysts are totally ignoring the complicated security concerns especially terrorism surge, smuggling challenges, alien influx, and economic compulsions of Pakistan.
Six: As far as birthplace citizenship rights are concerned; Pakistan has never denied it to anyone. However, if an undocumented alien avoids the registration process, then the onus rests entirely on his/her shoulders.
Deportation of aliens is a belated right step in the right direction. IAG should comprehend the sensitivity of the matter and introspect the flawed policy of being soft on hardcore terrorists. Pakistan is rightly asking the neighbors to refrain from climbing the wall and enter the house through the door after taking permission in a decent manner.
(Writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at [email protected])