NWFP govt shuts down clinics, laboratories run by Afghans
PESHAWAR (NNI): NWFP government has closed down clinics and laboratories run by the Pakistan-based Afghan
Peshawar police in a major operation, shut down such medical clinics and laboratories at Board area, Nasir Bagh and Arbab
road. The doctors and other staff who put resistance were arrested.
Police and federal and provincial governments have said the owners of these clinics and laboratories did not possess valid and
genuine documents and were avoiding getting their business registered and paying tax.
Afghan doctors and laboratory technicians said that they charge nominal fee as compared to the Pakistani doctors and that is
why they cannot afford to pay tax like the Pakistani doctors.
The Afghans complained that Pakistan authorities have recently put mental, economic and cultural pressure on them. This is the
beginning of the move to expel the refugees from Pakistan, they complained.
China blasts U.S. media over missile reports
06:17 a.m. Mar 23, 1999 Eastern
BEIJING, March 23 (Reuters) - China on Tuesday dismissed media reports it had obtained two unexploded U.S. Tomahawk
cruise missiles from Afghanistan as a complete fabrication.
``There is not a figment of truth'' in a report by U.S. magazine Newsweek, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi told
reporters. ``It is groundless and a complete fabrication.''
In an issue released on Monday, Newsweek said China had recovered the missiles from Afghanistan. The United States had
fired them last August at suspected terrorist bases.
News of Chinese interest in the missiles surfaced in December when Pakistani media reported on a visit to Afghanistan by a
12-member team of Chinese scientists.
The Urdu-language Ausaf newspaper reported that the team studied the missile's computer guidance systems for a week.
The Newsweek report also focused on allegations that China stole secrets from the U.S. national nuclear research laboratory in
Los Alamos, New Mexico, and used them to improve its military capabilities by developing a miniature nuclear warhead.
Sun repeated China's blanket denial of theft and said the accusations were ``made with ulterior motives.''
He did not elaborate.
The allegations of nuclear espionage came to light ahead of Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to the United States next month
and have clouded Sino-U.S. ties.
Zhu has denied the charges as ``a tale from the Arabian Nights'' and called for better ties with the United States.
U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Central Intelligence Agency have ordered separate investigations into the spying charges and
the Energy Department has issued new security measures at the research laboratories.
Sun also lashed out at a decision by U.S. Congress to deploy a national missile defence shield.
``The move runs counter to the trend of the times,'' Sun said.
``It will directly affect the nuclear disarmament process and will have a far-reaching, adverse impact upon the global strategic
balance in the 21st century.''
Last week, both Houses of Congress approved a bill which would commit the United States to deploy a defence system
against limited missile attack. The bill did not specify a time frame, costs or specifics of the system.
Supporters of the bill pointed to recent missile tests by North Korea and Iran, along with the reports of Chinese espionage, as
evidence of the need for such a system.
China is sensitive to talk of efforts to develop a strategic missile shield, fearing the technology could be extended to Taiwan and
render useless Beijing's ballistic missile programme.
U-N SPECIAL ENVOY LAKHDAR BRAHIMI IS MEETING WITH
INTRO: U-N SPECIAL ENVOY LAKHDAR BRAHIMI IS MEETING WITH OPPOSITION LEADERS IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. AS SARAH HORNER REPORTS FROM ISLAMABAD, THE ENVOY IS TRYING TO SAVE A PEACE ACCORD MEDIATED LAST WEEK.
TEXT: AN OFFICIAL FROM THE U-N POLITICAL MISSION TELLS V-O-A SPECIAL ENVOY LAKHDAR BRAHIMI MET (TUESDAY) WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE. THE OFFICIAL WOULD NOT SPECIFY WHICH PART OF NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN MR. BRAHIMI IS VISITING, NOR WOULD HE GIVE DETAILS OF WHAT WAS TO BE DISCUSSED.
THE OFFICIAL SAYS MR. BRAHIMI IS TO RETURN (LATE TUESDAY) TO THE PAKISTANI CAPITAL, ISLAMABAD AND SPEND THE FOLLOWING TWO-DAYS THERE BEFORE LEAVING THE REGION FRIDAY.
MR. BRAHIMI IS MAKING AN UNSCHEDULED VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN AFTER U-N SPONSORED PEACE TALKS HELD LAST WEEK IN THE TURKMEN CAPITAL, ASHGABAD.
DURING THE TALKS, THE TALEBAN, WHICH CONTROLS 90-PERCENT OF AFGHANISTAN, SIGNED A PEACE AGREEMENT WITH THE OPPOSITION NORTHERN ALLIANCE. BUT DAYS LATER, FIGHTING RESUMED BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES NORTH OF THE CAPITAL, KABUL, AND IN CENTRAL AFGHANISTAN.
SPECIAL ENVOY BRAHIMI SAYS HE IS UNDETERRED BY THE RENEWED CONFLICT AND SAYS THE TALEBAN AND THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE ARE COMMITTED TO THE PEACE PROCESS.
MR. BRAHIMI TOLD REPORTERS SUNDAY IN KABUL HE HOPES THE DATE OF THE NEXT ROUND OF PEACE TALKS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON. HE SAID THE TALKS WILL PROBABLY BE HELD IN AFGHANISTAN.
/// OPT /// FACE-TO-FACE TALKS BETWEEN THE TALEBAN AND THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE WERE HELD IN PAKISTAN ALMOST ONE-YEAR AGO. THE DISCUSSIONS ENDED IN FAILURE AND FIGHTING RESUMED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. /// END OPT ///
THE TALKS ARE PART OF THE U-N STRATEGY TO FIND A SOLUTION TO THE DECADE-OLD AFGHAN CIVIL WAR. U-N SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN HAS ALSO CALLED FOR REGIONAL POWERS TO STOP INTERFERING IN LAND-LOCKED AFGHANISTAN.
MEANWHILE, THE UNITED NATIONS IS SPONSORING A FORUM CALLED THE SIX-PLUS-TWO GROUP -- COMPRISED OF AFGHANISTAN'S NEIGHBORS ALONG WITH RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES. SPECIAL ENVOY BRAHIMI IS TRYING TO ARRANGE A MEETING OF THE GROUP IN THE UZBEK CAPITAL, TASHKENT. (SIGNED)
23-Mar-99 8:41 AM EST (1341 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
UN envoy begins Afghan peace shuttle
The United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, has gone to the northern Afghan town Taloqan to meet
leaders of the anti-Taleban alliance, including the veteran commander, Ahmed Shah Masood.
Mr Brahimi travelled from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, in a UN plane.
He is expected to visit the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taleban leader, Mullah Muhammad
Omar, on Wednesday.
The UN envoy is seeking agreement on the date and location of the next round of peace talks.
Both sides agreed to form a shared government at the last talks in the Turkmen capital, Ashkabad, but no ceasefire was agreed
and sporadic fighting has continued on several fronts.
From the newsroom of the BBC World Service
rabbani congratulates khatami on norouz
tehran, march 23, irna -- head of the afghan islamic government burhanuddin rabbani has sent a message to chairman of the
organization of the islamic conference (oic) president mohammad khatami congratulating him on norouz, marking the start of the
iranian new year. rabbani expressed hope in his message that the new year would be filled with blessings and health for the
muslim nation of iran.
Brahimi to secure dates for next round of Afghan talks
ISLAMABAD (NNI): The UN Secretary Generals special envoy on Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi will visit Kandahar and
northern Afghanistan for talks with Taliban and opposition alliance to fix dates and venue for the next round of talks, Foreign
Minister Sartaj Aziz said on Monday.
Replying to a question during his press conference Sartaj Aziz said that Brahimi would meet Taliban leader Mulla Mohammad
Omar and opposition commander Ahmed Shah Masood. He the next target of the UN envoy is to clinch cease-fire agreement
between the Afghan warring factions.
The UN envoy was "quite pleased" over the progress in the Taliban-opposition alliance talks in Ashgabat. Brahimi flew into
Kabul on Sunday and held talks with the head of Talibans ruling council Mulla Mohammad Rabbani.
Sartaj hopes Afghan factions to resolve crisis through talks
ISLAMABAD (NNI): Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz Monday hoped that the warring Afghan factions would come to the
negotiating table and resolve their difference through talks.
The foreign minister was talking to the UN Secretary Generals special envoy on Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi.
According to a foreign office statement Sartaj Aziz and Brahimi discussed the latest situation in Afghanistan.
The UN envoy briefed the Foreign Minister on his efforts for reconciliation and formation of broad-based government in
Afghanistan. He also discussed with him the latest talks between the ruling Taliban and the opposition Northern Alliance in
Ashgabat held under the auspices of United Nations.
Confining Afghan refugees to camps
The News: Jang (Opinion)
The announcement by NWFP Chief Minister Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan to start shifting Afghan refugees living in urban
areas of his province to the refugees' camps March 15 onwards came out of the blue. It was bound to generate controversy as
certain opposition political parties opposed the decision and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) registered its concern over the move. Before long, better sense prevailed in the Frontier House, the seat of the
provincial government in Peshawar, and the chief minister directed the commissioner for Afghan refugees to prepare a plan for
either confining the refugees to the camps or devising a mechanism to regulate their movement and activities.
No doubt the issue of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan is becoming complex as their stay here grows longer. Some of them have
been with us for almost two decades and nobody knows when would they return to Afghanistan. Those born here often joke
that they are more Pakistani than Afghan and can lay claim to being Pakistan's citizens. By the look of things, it is unlikely that
the Afghans would ever get a government that is acceptable to all or most of them. Thus the argument advanced by many
Afghans that they cannot return home due to political reasons is expected to be put forward even 10 or 20 years later.
The second argument that is often heard from many Afghans is the insecurity they fear upon returning home. Except a few
provinces with active frontlines, like Parwan, Takhar, Kunduz, Baghlan and Kapisa province, most other places in Afghanistan
are peaceful and secure for common Afghans. In fact, many Afghans and outsiders familiar with Afghanistan would vouchsafe
that the peace and security under the Taliban is unprecedented and exemplary. It would be futile to discuss as to how the ruling
Taliban brought about peace in a once lawless country as it would invariably focus attention on the Islamic punishments
enforced by them like public executions and amputations of those convicted of murders and thefts. In any case, majority of
Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan belong to provinces which have been peaceful for some years now. Most have come
from Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan and a large number of journalists and aid workers who have been to places like
Nangrahar, Laghman, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar and Helmand would tell you that they felt safer travelling there
than in NWFP, Balochistan or other Pakistani provinces.
This brings us to the real reason why most Afghan refugees don't want to go back to Afghanistan. It is pure economics because
war-ravaged Afghanistan with its destroyed economy can no longer feed and sustain its people. Those who have opted to stay
back in Afghanistan are mostly living off the land, are too poor to leave, have a stake in the existing system of government, or
have relations who work in Pakistan, the Gulf states or the Western countries and regularly remit them rupees, riyals and
dollars. Afghans living as refugees in Pakistan earn much more than they can hope to make in Afghanistan. They are also happy
to be paid in Pakistani Rupee, which is a far stronger currency than the worthless Afghani. Many Afghan families have found it
practicable and profitable to maintain two homes, one in Pakistan to make some extra money and another back home in
Afghanistan to take care of agricultural and other seasonal chores. They are, in fact, economic refugees who are unwilling to
forego the better standard of life in Pakistan. This fact was also borne out by the UNHCR and WFP decision to stop food
assistance to the Afghan refugees in September 1995 as they were convinced that the refugees had become self-sufficient and
no longer required outside assistance.
This doesn't mean that all Afghan refugees are here for economic gains. There are quite a few who fought the Taliban or still
actively oppose them and cannot risk their lives by returning to Afghanistan. Some of the Afghan refugees want to educate their
young daughters and sisters, which they cannot do in Afghanistan, and also wish to impart quality education to their sons and
brothers. Though small, there is also a class of urban Afghans who cannot accept the Taliban orders that men must grow
beards and women ought to wear the Hejab. Many such Afghans come to Pakistan to try and seek refuge somewhere in the
West. A number of them have succeeded in their mission, some are waiting, and the remaining are content to receive
remittances from relations already abroad.
Afghans started migrating to Pakistan in big numbers in 1979 after the Soviet invasion of their homeland. Most took refuge in
NWFP not only on account of its proximity to their country but also due to the fact that they shared the same language, culture
and religions with the Pashtoons of the Frontier. The refugees, whose number crossed two million during the peak periods of
migration, were settled in 260 tented villages or camps spread all over NWFP and over 11,000 Pakistanis were hired by the
commissioner for Afghan refugees to serve their needs. Presently, there are an estimated 1.5 million Afghan refugees, of whom
1.2 million have been registered, in the Frontier. An overwhelming majority of the Afghan refugees are living in the 48 camps
that still exist but a substantial number have rented houses in Peshawar and other urban centres and are busy in different
economic activities. Those living in the camps also go out daily in search of work in both urban and rural areas, which explains
why the refugees prefer to live in camps sited close to the cities and which make places like Peshawar overcrowded during the
The Pakistan government allowed freedom of movement and work to the Afghan refugees, which enabled them to sustain
themselves when the UN stopped all their assistance in late 1995. Those were the heady days of the Afghan "jehad" and Gen
Ziaul Haq was in a generous mood. The Afghan refugees were welcome and the mujahideen found in Pakistan a committed
supporter. But times have changed and chief minister Sardar Mahtab had to say that he can no longer allow his own people to
be punished for hosting so many refugees for such a long period. One factor which provoked the chief minister to utter these
words were the Frontier Police claims that the Afghan refugees have become involved in crime in a big way. Statistics compiled
by the crime branch of the police revealed that the Afghan refugees committed 11.60 per cent, ie 11 times, more crimes in
proportionate terms than the local people during 1998. In terms of population percentage (9653 accused in a population of 1.2
million registered Afghan refugees), their crime percentage comes to 0.8044 per cent against NWFP's 0.0693 per cent (12130
accused in the province's population of 17.5 million according to the 1998 census estimates). This meant that eight out of every
1,000 Afghan refugees were accused of committing crime compared to only six local people out of 100,000. These figures may
not be accurate, considering the tendency among the Frontier Police to blame the Afghan refugees for most crimes, but they do
reflect a trend that is worrying and which is believed by bulk of the Frontier population. Here it would be pertinent to recall
figures made available by the NWFP prison department in 1996-97 which showed that the number of Afghan refugees who
were accused, under trial or convicted in various crimes was far less than the latest date produced by the Frontier Police.
Whatever the motivation, chief minister Sardar Mahtab also found out soon that his orders to start relocating the Afghan
refugees from the cities to the camps after March 15 could not be implemented in a hurry. The reaction to his announcement
was largely negative. Marie France Sevestre, head of the UNHCR sub-office in Peshawar, warned that the move would reflect
negatively on Pakistan's image in the world. She felt the relocation would be painful for the refugees and also made it clear that
the UNHCR had no resources to again start feeding them in the camps. The Jamaat-i-Islami and PPP's Aftab Sherpao, as well
as some nationalist parties, all condemned the decision and termed it unworkable. There were faint voices in support of the
chief minister's announcement, with the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Ghulam Sarwar Mohmand,
echoing the grievances of local traders affected by the growing clout of Afghan businessmen, leading the way. The adverse
reaction apparently prompted the provincial government to come out with a statement which ruled out forced deportation of the
Afghans and reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to observe the UN charter and conventions regarding refugees. It also clarified
that shifting of refugees to the camps, regulation and streamlining of their businesses and their subsequent repatriation were part
of a national policy which was under process and was yet to be finalised. It added that all Afghan leaders would be taken into
confidence prior to formulation of any policy concerning repatriation of Afghan refugees.
This clarification and the 30-day period given to the concerned government officials to prepare a plan for relocating the Afghan
refugees helped in defusing the issue to some extent. But there has to be a way out of this nagging stalemate because relocation
of unwilling refugees to camps which are already overcrowded and lack certain basic facilities isn't the answer to this problem.
The best solution would be voluntary repatriation of the refugees but that cannot happen until there is a durable political
settlement of the Afghan conflict. Even if that happens, there is no guarantee that the economic refugees among the Afghans
living in Pakistan would willingly go back. Pakistan has become the natural sanctuary for Afghans running away from their
country and, in a way, this is a fact rooted in history.
Most Pakhtoon tribes now inhabiting NWFP were once living in present-day Afghanistan and they opted to settle here once
they crossed over to these lands via the Khyber, Nawa and other passes across the Durand Line. We may not like it but the
fact remains that Afghanistan's economic dependence on Pakistan has become so vital that delinking their economies is now
almost impossible. That also means that Afghans would keep coming here in search of work and business and would be
burdening Frontier's scarce resources. What we could do is to regulate their entry, presence and activity in Pakistan and,
meanwhile, seek international assistance to encourage their repatriation.
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