Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, The Growing Security Concerns

The influx of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been a longstanding issue, with significant implications for security. Pakistan has hosted a substantial Afghan refugee population for 4 decades, with over 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees and an additional 0.8 million ACC cardholders currently residing in the country. While many of these refugees seek safety and a better life, a growing security concern arises from a significant fraction involved in criminal activities and even acts of terrorism.

Over the past five years, Pakistan has apprehended 1,732 individuals involved in terrorism-related activities, with links to Afghanistan. Notably, several high-profile attacks on Pakistani soil have been carried out by Afghan nationals. The most recent attack in May 2023 in Muslim Bagh involved five terrorists associated with the Afghan Taliban.

One of the pressing security challenges is the porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, allowing militants and criminals to cross easily. Pakistan has faced incursions and attacks from Afghan soil, underscoring the need for effective border control.

In light of these security concerns, Pakistan’s decision to set a deadline of 1 november for illegal foreigners to leave the country is significant. Repatriation efforts are essential not only to alleviate the security risks but also to ensure the safety of the host nation’s citizens. Every province in Pakistan has the right and responsibility to safeguard its residents and maintain security.

While Pakistan has been a generous host to Afghan refugees for years, it cannot ignore the growing security challenges. Repatriation is not just a matter of national security; it is also about ensuring the well-being of the Pakistani people. Addressing the security concerns posed by some Afghan refugees is a crucial step toward a safer and more stable Pakistan.