Thursday December 09, 2021

Prevailing uncertainty: Afghan refugees unwilling to go back to Afghanistan

October 02, 2021

PESHAWAR: The Afghan refugees living in Pakistan are still reluctant to go back to Afghanistan even though one of their representatives was inducted in the cabinet recently announced by the Taliban after seizing Kabul.

The Afghan refugees living in Shamshatoo camp in Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Islamabad and other parts of the country said in the past that they could not return to their homeland in the presence of their opponents led by former president Ashraf Ghani, Massoud group and Qasim Faheem group in North Afghanistan.

Taliban inducted their representative Arsala Kharoti as Deputy Minister of Refugees in the cabinet and asked all Afghans to return to Afghanistan and play a role in the development of the war-torn country.

In their separate chat with The News, the Afghan refugees in Peshawar said the situation in Kabul was unstable and they could not return to Afghanistan and leave behind their businesses in Pakistan.

An Afghan vendor in Faqirabad locality in Peshawar city said they were worried about the safety of their relatives living an uncertain life in Kabul under the Taliban government.

According to him, the refugees in Pakistan would find ways to pull out their relatives from there. He expected an influx of refugees once the border was opened.

“We have a small business but we manage to have a two time meal,” he said, adding: “We don’t live a luxurious life and can manage in difficult circumstances but the people in Afghanistan have no security and no jobs.”

Posing a question, he asked for how long the people would live without food, job and security.

He said the owners of various plazas were expecting an influx of Afghan refugees in near future and that was why they were renovating their houses and plazas to get better rents, saying rents had been increased from September 1.

He pointed out the owners of plazas on Ring Road and various parts of the city, who had left the construction work incomplete, have started completing the remaining work.

“One of the owners, who got permission for construction of rooms for offices, is constructing flats to accommodate expected refugees in his building,” he said.

The local and Afghan traders in the medicine business said the government of Pakistan should have allowed the refugees 30 years before to open bank accounts but that time the government had forced the educated wealthy Afghans to leave.

According to an estimate, Fahim, 54, said more than Rs2 billion of worth businesses in Peshawar was affected with the expulsion of Afghan traders.

The Afghan traders had invested in different businesses and employed locals, saying about

four to five lakhs Pakistanis lost their jobs when they shifted their business from here.

A Pakistani businessman, who still runs a shop in Shafi Market in Peshawar, said that he was in-charge of two shops owned by an Afghan trader.

He said he had established a separate shop for himself but all the 12 workers lost their job when the Afghan trader shifted his business to China.

He said the government should have allowed Afghan traders to run business using Pakistani banks accounts.

The poor refugees, he said, were still living in Pakistan but the wealthy among them shifted their business to other countries.

Now, he said, the government should provide opportunities to Afghan traders to run business from Pakistan banks.

The government, he said, should establish a free zone if the Afghan traders wanted to import items including heavy machinery, mobile, parts of vehicles and electronic gadgets.

He said Turkey granted citizenship for depositing three to five lakh dollars in Turkish banks for three years.

An Afghan trader, he said, would have to deposit five lakhs dollars in Turkish banks for three years to get citizenship and continue doing business.