Do Taliban have a true measure of misery of Afghan refugees?
Frontier Post - Editorial 11-19-2000
Pakistanís ban on the entry of any more refugees from Afghanistan will not affect ties between Islamabad and the regime in Kabul.
This is the assurance held out by Maulvi Wakeel Ahmad Mutawwakil, the Afghan foreign minister.
He made that assertion talking to correspondents in Quetta, on way home after attending the Ninth Summit of the Orgnisation of Islamic Conference. We do welcome that straightforward statement.
There is no earthly reason why anyone in Kabul should resent Islamabad taking a decisin so manifestly dictated by hard facts on the ground Pakistan has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for nearly 20 long and stressful years.
The situation has reached a point where it is beyond Pakistanís endurance.
Already this country is saddled with well over a million recorded and documented refugees. There is no counting those who are here but do not exist on any records.
It should be within the knowledge of the whole world that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan has stated in categorically clear words that the UNHCR has no funds to cope with fresh arrivals from Afghanistan.
Indeed, the funds available with the UNHCR in this country are not quite adequate to meet the obligations in relation to the refugees in the camps in Pakistan.
Much as the people and government of Pakistan would wish to be of some assistance and service to brother and sisters from Afghanistan, that seems to be beyond the resources of Pakistan at present.
Any further addition to the refugee population will result in more problems and misery for all concerned, not the least to the refugee whom we may seek to serve but at he end of the day turn out to be unable to do that.
Without doubt, we welcome the reassuring statement from the Afghan foreign minister.
But it will be wholly illusory to let the matter rest at that.
What we - the Afghans, the people and government in Pakistan - have on our hands is avery heart-breaking human problem which is literally a matter of life and death for millions of human beings in dire distress.
How can anyone just coolly dismiss it by merely saying that there will be no dipomatic problem between Islamabad and Kabul.
What should be the concern for all sensible people in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the world is not any diplomatic il wind but the misery of the people rendered refugee in their own fatherland.
We find no evidence at all the words of the Afghan foreign minister to suggest that he was in any manner distressed over the misery his people were facing at the moment.
What one expected now from the Taliban team is that they woke up and started doing the needful to take care of the millions of their people facing cruel cold winds and starvation.
So far, the days have gone by with hundreds and thousands of people just crowding close to the Pakistan border.
The people in Pakistan feel miserable in the feeling that so many of their fellow beings are on the border and in need of help. The newspapers carry pictures of the scenes just across the wide gate at Torkham.
How long can one expect this situation will continue without there being some mishap? Human patience has it limits.
This situation must be sorted out.† Only the people in power in Kabul can find the needed solution.
Why are they not thinking making some arrangement to bring at least some food for their people who ar gathering in increasing numbers on Pakistan border? This is not only an unlovely situation but also an explosive one.
Who would be responsible for any untoward turn, should any take place? One should like to hope that our Foreign Office is not unmindful of the powder keg that our border with Afghanistan is becoming with this increasing refugee concourse without bread or shelter.
Afghan foreign ministerís statement is neither here nor there in the context of the human misery that has been heaped by the Taliban regime on our borders.
Has our government taken up this matter with their fevourites in Kabul? Where there is so much of human wretchedness concentrated in a radius of one Kilometer or so, what you have is an awesomely explosive situation.
Our foreign office has never been famous for being able to look beyond its not very sharp nose.
Only opiated observers will fail to see the dangers lurking at our borders in the shape of these refugees who we are wholly unable to invite, much as we would love to.
There is little that we can do to reive the misery of the Afghan refugee at our border.
But what we still can do is to make a loud appeal to the United Nations and also directly to the world communtiy to organise relief for these refugees.
Those who are pleading with us to open the border should be told that if they wish to help the Afghan refugees.
There is nothing to prevent them from taking relief to them in their country, without forcing them first to become refugees in Pakistan and then line up, bowl in hand, to receive relief.
The United Nations High Commissioner is not previented from going to Afghanistan and Organizing relief work. Must the Afghans come to Pakistan to receive United Nationsí relief? This is unacceptably convoluted logic.
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