Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbouring countries in South Asia. While they share a long and porous border, the relationship between the two countries has been marked by cooperation. Historically speaking, Pakistan and Afghanistan have had cultural, historical, and economic ties. They share a common ethnic and linguistic heritage, with Pashtuns being the largest ethnic group in both countries. People from both countries have migrated back and forth across the border for centuries, contributing to cultural and social integration.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have also engaged in various bilateral initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation. These include trade agreements, cultural exchanges, and joint efforts to combat terrorism and drug trafficking. Pakistan has provided humanitarian aid and assistance to Afghanistan during times of crisis, such as during the Afghan refugee crisis and natural disasters. Additionally, the geopolitical dynamics of the region have further provided substantial economic and political opportunities to both countries in order to strengthen their bilateral ties. Efforts have been made to improve bilateral relations through diplomatic channels and dialogue. There have been periods of increased cooperation, as well as setbacks and disagreements. Ultimately, the stability and development of both countries are interconnected, and fostering a peaceful and cooperative relationship is beneficial for the entire region.
The recent release of 290 Afghan citizens in the next two months will reinforce Pakistan’s sincere efforts to help Afghan refugees. These people were put in prison for not having any legal documentation. Pakistani authorities have released 2350 citizens out of 2600, which is a good gesture. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and US war on terror created refugee crises in South Asia. Pakistan shares 2250 km long borders and is an immediate neighbor of Afghanistan, resulting in a massive influx of refugees towards Pakistan.
The influx of Afghan refugees in Pakistan harms the country’s economy. According to research, Afghan refugees lower actual economic activity in Pakistan in both the short and long run. They also strain scarce resources and services and contribute to weapons and drug trafficking. Pakistan, already poor and unstable, cannot afford to host millions of refugees without adequate international support.
Despite these hurdles, Pakistan provided asylum to all the refugees who came to Pakistan. Any country does not allow refugees to roam around, including Turkey or Iran, without legal documentation, but they have restricted the asylums to a specific area. Pakistan deserves recognition and appreciation for its hospitality and generosity towards Afghan refugees over the past 40 years. Pakistan has provided shelter and safety to millions of Afghans fleeing war and violence and ensured their dignity and human rights by granting them access to education, banking, and livelihood opportunities.
On the contrary, around 11,000 Afghans in India have registered as asylum seekers but are not legally recognized as refugees. However, India claims to be an ally and friend of Afghanistan. Unlike Pakistan, neighbors like Iran and Turkiye have strict policies for Afghan asylum seekers and refugees, including area restrictions (inside host countries) and forced repatriation to Afghanistan.
Similarly, releasing these prisoners will also make it easier for them to voluntarily return to Afghanistan, where they may be reunited with loved ones and help build a better future for their nation. The release of these prisoners is in line with the goals of the National Policy on Afghan Refugees and the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees, which are to ensure the safety and respect of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and to help them successfully reintegrate into Afghan society. The two countries have restored hope and fraternity by releasing these convicts.
Pakistan has played a significant role in hosting Afghan refugees and facilitating peace and stability in Afghanistan. The international community should indeed acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts and contributions in this regard. For decades, Pakistan has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees who fled their country due to conflict and instability. Despite the strain on its resources and economy, Pakistan has provided shelter, education, healthcare, and other essential services to these refugees. This has been a considerable humanitarian undertaking, and Pakistan’s hospitality and generosity deserve recognition.
Moreover, Pakistan has been actively involved in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. It has supported diplomatic efforts, facilitated negotiations, and hosted talks between various Afghan factions. Pakistan’s role in facilitating the peace process, particularly in the Afghan Taliban’s engagement with the international community, has been recognized and appreciated by several countries.
Additionally, Pakistan has been committed to combating terrorism and extremism in the region, which is crucial for the security and stability of Afghanistan. It has conducted military operations against terrorist groups within its own borders, as well as along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, to prevent cross-border militant activities. These efforts have contributed to reducing the threat of terrorism and creating a more secure environment for the Afghan people.
It is important for the international community to acknowledge Pakistan’s positive role in Afghanistan and recognize the challenges it has faced as a result of its commitment to hosting Afghan refugees. Recognizing Pakistan’s efforts can encourage further cooperation and support from the global community in addressing the ongoing challenges in Afghanistan and assisting Pakistan in its humanitarian endeavors.
Pakistan has provided Afghan refugees with opportunities to establish businesses and contribute to the local economy. Over the years, many Afghan refugees in Pakistan have started small businesses, including shops, restaurants, and other enterprises, which have helped them support themselves and their families. The Pakistani government has taken steps to facilitate the economic integration of Afghan refugees. For instance, it has implemented policies that allow Afghan refugees to obtain work permits and engage in formal employment. This has allowed them to work legally and contribute to the local economy.
Furthermore, the Pakistani government, in collaboration with international organizations and NGOs, has initiated programs to provide vocational training and skill development to Afghan refugees. These programs aim to enhance their skills and enable them to establish and run their businesses effectively. By encouraging entrepreneurship among Afghan refugees, Pakistan has sought to create economic opportunities and empower them to become self-sufficient. This not only benefits the refugees themselves but also has a positive impact on the local economy by generating employment opportunities and contributing to economic growth.
Overall, Pakistan’s provision of opportunities for Afghan refugees to establish businesses reflects its commitment to assisting and empowering them during their stay in Pakistan. By fostering entrepreneurship and economic self-sufficiency, Pakistan aims to create a more conducive environment for Afghan refugees and contribute to their long-term well-being.