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Concerns expressed over Afghans involvement in poppy cultivation in Pakistan

November 28, 2023

Islamabad:There has been undue backlash against Pakistan on its decision of sending undocumented or illegal Afghans back home as none of our neighboring countries or those in the West ever take migrants who are undocumented or illegal.

This observation was made by a Pakistani participant of 3rd Pak-Afghan Tribal Stakeholders Conference, held in Quetta, convened by Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), said a statement issued here Monday. He noted that it must be remembered that Pakistan still has a great number of Afghan refugees that are documented. A country that has long been grappling with its own domestic issues still comes forward and offers help to the Afghans in need – sadly the world forgets favours as such.

This photo shows a Taliban security personnel destroying a poppy plantation in Sher Surkh village of Kandahar province. — AFP/File
This photo shows a Taliban security personnel destroying a poppy plantation in Sher Surkh village of Kandahar province. — AFP/File

Hailing from the Spin Boldak and Chaman border regions, the chieftains and community influencers called for the formulation and implementation of policies to strengthen bilateral relations and address common challenges. The participants acknowledged the shared problems faced by both countries and urged more steps to be taken, focusing on unresolved issues. Another Pakistani participant said that we should move past to improve relations and address more crucial problems that need our utmost attention like sending the undocumented Afghans back home.

An Afghan participant noted that 5 to 8 thousand people from the Chaman border engage in daily business activities which will be affected by new visa policy. Hence, the governments and the international community need to create alternative business opportunities for them. Another added that the economic impact of banning certain items resulted in a substantial loss for traders from both countries. Had the ban been imposed earlier, traders could have avoided fines and losses, he opined and suggested that in such matters, smooth and timely communication is the key.

The forum applauded the Afghan authorities' stringent and dedicated efforts in curtailing and eventually eradicating poppy cultivation. However, the Pakistani side expressed concerns regarding the recent involvement of Afghan businesspersons in the poppy cultivation business on the Pakistani side. Urgent measures were urged by the Pakistani representatives, emphasising the need for decisive government actions to curb the proliferation of poppy cultivation in Pakistan as well.

In the context of peace and security, Pakistani tribal leaders urged Kabul to take action against Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The forum asserted that terrorism and the actions of non-state actors are fostering a divide between the two nations, and it is imperative that such activities be addressed through stringent measures. Afghan girls' education matter was discussed thoroughly. Both sides urged the Afghan government to review the arrangements and deliver on its promise of providing adequate and safe environments for girls and women to pursue their scholarly dreams so they can participate in the restabilisation and rebuilding of the Afghan nation. “This needs to be done on an urgent basis because we are seeing a decline in female professionals in various fields including medicine and health. These are not good signs," said an Afghan speaker. The gathering emphasised the importance of providing facilities and infrastructure, including female teachers and washrooms to overcome educational challenges in the border areas of Chaman and Spin Boldak. Both sides acknowledged the importance of including tribal representatives in the discourse on bilateral issues.