The Afghans are to Pakistan what the Muslims are to Trump

Published: June 21, 2016

Afghan refugees gather for renewal of their family cards at the Chamkany registration center on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

They have been wreaking havoc in our country since the early 80s. The spread of drugs and the Kalashnikov culture is blamed on these poor souls and rightly so. Their help in the conduct of terror plots throughout the country is widely known; the Army Public School (APS) attack in December 2014 is a case in point.

With Zarb-e-Azb in its final stage, fighting internal and external threats in FATA and dealing with border skirmishes, it is safe to say Pakistan already has enough on its plate. Yet, it has been the only country gracious enough to grant three million Afghan refugees an unlimited stay. Rather than acknowledge the good will, they have taken advantage of our hospitality.

Yet, I ask you to let them stay and not force them out.

They have nowhere else to go.

In a recently conducted interview, Sartaj Aziz stated that Afghan refugees were posing a threat to Pakistan’s security and plans regarding their repatriation should be chalked out soon. It’s surprising this statement was made considering the Afghan government submitted an extension for their stay last month.

Could his statement have something to do with the on-going tensions between both countries?

Maybe so.

Following the closure of the Torkham border – restricting travel on both ends – and recent deadly clashes, both countries have upped security forces at their borders and Pakistan decided to build a gate on their side of the border.

Will these decisions prove to be problematic or be the much needed solution both countries are desperately searching for?

What will happen though, is that these decisions will have an adverse impact on the Afghan refugees in Pakistan; a country they consider home where they live and work diligently. They have nowhere else to go. Our country is their home, where they live and work and play and pray. We cannot take that away from them. Think of Karim, an Afghan shopkeeper in Peshawar, who was born in the city in 1985, who has children who were born in the same city, and who works arduously to give his children a bright future, just like any of us would.

He visits his relatives in Kandahar occasionally, when it is safe to do so, but otherwise he has made Peshawar his permanent abode. Forcing him to “return” would be inherently wrong. How can a person “return” to a place if the place is not really home to begin with?

Donald Trump is chided for his racialism, for claiming that once he is in power, there will be a deportation force that will boot all illegal Mexicans out. Legally, this action would be correct. However, basic notions of humanity dictate that you do not forcefully repatriate millions of people, destroying their livelihoods, ruining their lives merely to assert your sense of nationalism – no matter the legality of their stay.

This is why he is vehemently criticised for his stance on illegal Mexicans. How would our government be any different if it partakes in a similar exercise with regards to the Afghans? Moreover, unlike the Mexicans, the Afghans have not been and are not in Pakistan just to earn a living: they have legitimate security concerns due to which they cannot go back to their homeland.

It is unfortunate that whenever there is a terrorist attack by people claiming to represent Islam anywhere in the West, all of the United States erupts in a furore against “those Mozlems.” Blaming a religion or an entire nationality for the actions of an individual or handful of wayward individuals is unfortunate. Yet, we have done the same in scapegoating Afghans for all the ills plaguing our society or when the Afghan military strikes inside our territory.

The recent flare up with Afghanistan means that we might even intern refugees in camps. The United States is still embarrassed by the wholesale internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Do we, too, want to leave such a botched episode in the history of our country?

We expect to be accepted in European countries or the United States when we immigrate there. If by happenstance, we happen to be on a refugee or asylum status, it is considered our right to be there. Yet, we deny the same sense of security and belonging to legal refugees in our country, who have now established themselves and have been living in Pakistan for decades.

Let the Afghans stay – allow them to mesh into our social and political fabric the same way Britain has done to millions of Pakistanis and give them our nationality. The Afghans, for their part, should show their gratitude in return for our charity and should lessen the resentment they harbour against us Pakistanis. If they want to stay and settle over here, they must strive to become Pakistanis.

Should Afghan refugees be allowed to stay in Pakistan?

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Shajeel Zaidi

Shajeel Zaidi

The author works in alternative financing on Wall Street, and has a fascination with modern history and politics. He tweets as @shajboi ( and can also be found on Instagram as shajboi (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Fahad Javed

    Anyone born in the region defined as Pakistan is a Pakistani (jus soli

    Karim by law can be a Pakistani citizen. If he chooses to be an Afghan then I think he needs to live there! Research before shedding tears saves you embarasment!Recommend

  • ProudPakistaniPashtun

    Mr. Zaidi! Please do not compare our skilled and educated immigrants living in west with the uneducated, ungrateful and unwanted afghan refugees. Our people are contributing to western societies as doctors, engineers and even cab drivers. And above all the people and government of these countries decided to integrate these “skilled” migrants. The cases of political and conflict asylum seekers from Pakistan to west are few compare to others.
    Now coming to the point of Pakistan and Pakistanis allowing afghan refugees in our country nu Mr. Zaidi, as a Pashtun, allow me to say that it would be disastrous for the country. Imagine these ungrateful people coming into our regional politics and government services.
    Mr. Zaidi we can understand that you live in the US and currently going through Trump syndrome but please believe us when we say that we know”Karim” better thn you because he has been living with us for the past three decades.
    Lets say farewell to Karim now!!!Recommend

  • S

    “The Afghans, for their part, should show their gratitude in return for our charity and should lessen the resentment they harbour against us Pakistanis. If they want to stay and settle over here, they must strive to become Pakistanis.”

    This is what they are not willing to do. If things were this simple, we would have gladly let them stay and even allowed more refugees but Afghan hostility will cost them big time.They need to contact their new buddy i.e India for this humanitarian crisis.Recommend

  • fahad

    good article to ponder upon….but Afghan government is being unthankful to the people of Pakistan who stood with them in every thick and thin.Now they are spreading hatred and spreading a bad word about Pakistan in the international arena as well, along with joining hands with india to open up two battle fronts for Pakistan.Recommend

  • AfghanWarrior

    Go home Punjabis! You are the criminal refugees from the other side of the Indus. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is Afghan territory. The whole world knows that except for you PakistanisRecommend

  • stevenson

    The author does not seem to know that the majority of Pakistanis in Western countries went there legally as skilled immigrants with visas. Most Pakistanis in North America and Australia are working, pay taxes and contribute to society. In continental Europe, all the countries have a majority of refugees who are like the Afghans,or Somalis. Afghans whether in Pakistan or in the West are mostly there as asylum seekers who smuggled themselves into countries claiming asylum with the result that the majority are on social assistance or welfare since they have no skills. The fact that millions of Afghans live in Pakistan while bad mouthing it has caused ill feelings among the common Pakistani. Afghans need to understand that their leaders have been duping them for decades by playing as Indian puppets which is the real cause for Afghanistan’s misery. When the same Afghans who blame Pakistan prefer to stay in Pakistan instead of going to India, of course Pakistanis will wonder why.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Wrong! lets stop meddling into their countrys affairs and let them sort out their problems. If you continue playing your game of strategic depth you willl suffer more so stop crying and recognize the fact that they cannot be dictated either thru brutal force or soft power. The sooner you realize the better off cause you never know a time may come that they become obsessed with your country’s affairs and it will be too late for pakistan to save herself. USSR was a nuk power when it collapsed, keep in mind nuk wouldn’t save a country and Afghans are never bothered that you have nukes anyway. The war in Afghanistan is distined to shift into pakistan lets see when Pakistanis realize it until then keep blaming Afghans for your own created disasters in pakistan. Recommend

  • JP

    This is a baloney blog. The Afghans need to go back and help their country.
    And there are close to 5 millions of them in Pakistan. Legal and illegal.
    NOT 3 million, as the author wrote.
    This is what they do:-
    Car jacking.
    Land grabbing.
    Sectarian violence.
    Human trafficking. International.
    Human trafficking.Domestic.[go to any Afghan Basti and buy a female]
    Drug running.Gun smuggling [from India and Afghanistan]
    Drug trafficking. Gun and ammunition sales.
    Home invasion.
    Aiding and abetting terrorists/extremists.
    Giving safe harbor to terrorists from Afghanistan.
    Bank robberies.
    Religious extremism/hate literature.
    Kidnapping for ransom.
    Target killing.
    Car thefts.[buy a Landcruiser, {stolen, taken to Afghanistan, then brought back}]
    Motorcycle thefts.
    Land Mafia
    Construction Mafia.
    Water Mafia
    This is just a few things they do in Karachi….only
    Invoking Trump’s name, is ridiculous and infantile. Get a life.Recommend

  • Fahad

    Wrong assumption. Afghans are also Muslims. We are brothers. There may be political differences and media fueled differences but at the end we common people respect each other.Recommend

  • HassaanM

    Typical Afghani living in LaLa land.Recommend

  • Khurram52c

    No … we are not brothers…. stop this bull of we are Muslims and we are brothers. Have you ever spoken to an Afghan in Pakistan… they live here and yet they hate you … speak to any Afghan in Afghanistan … they hate Pakistan. .for them you are neither m Muslims or brothers. So stop this .. we have suffered enough on this emotional mantra or Muslimhood and brotherhood Recommend

  • stevenson

    Why not ask the people in KPK . We prefer that Afghan refugees return home or continue to India where they get inspiration. Please do ask people in any city of KPK and then you’ll wake up ! Working as Indian stooges for Indian masters has not helped Afghans for over 6 decades. When you learn to just do what is best for Afghanistan? Imagine an Afghanistan where every citizen doesn’t grow up dreaming about smuggling himself abroad to get asylum but instead live in dignity by building Afghanistan.Recommend

  • Woheed

    They have the right to stay here !!! As a human they have the right !!! I dont care they are muslims or not !!! Recommend

  • Woheed

    If Adnan sami can get indian citizenship in 10 years !!! Why not afghans !!Recommend

  • Abuzar Jamil
    Allama Iqbal said something years ago……Now it is making clear sense than ever.Recommend

  • P

    Same criminal activities are repeated in other Pakistani cities.
    Great Mother India wants to help them. Now, there is
    a NO VISA policy between India and Afghanistan. These
    these 3 decades long ‘refugees’ need to move on-wards. To
    greener pastures in India. They will be welcomed by their
    Hindu Brothers. ..time for Hindu-Afghani…bhai bhai.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    No we have the right to decide if they can live here or not.Recommend

  • zorkor

    I have personally dealt with these afghans and I have to say the sooner they are kicked out of the country, the better it is for us. Their stay is not helping Pakistan in anyway. 3 decades of hospitality and what they gave us? they fired at our soldier and killed a major from the Pakistan side. No thanks we don’t want them. The next election slogan should be removing all Afghan nationals from Pakistan side and sending them back to wherever they want to go. Since most of them are pro Indians, they can ask for refugee status there. We, in Pakistan have too many other issues to tackle.Recommend

  • zorkor

    Just leave Pakistan and then you can sit somewhere else talking bad about the same country which is sheltering 90% of your citizens.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    “Every action has an equal but opposite reaction”

    Afghans need to learn that our hospitality has some limits.
    Make no mistake,Afghans hate you.Recommend

  • AJ

    Warrior, you have proved our point, Sir.

    “Jis per ehsaan kro, us k shar se bacho.” Hazrat AliRecommend

  • AJ

    Mr. Shajeel, I couldn’t agree with your single point. Yes, there is a factor of humanity when it comes to giving shelter to refugees. But in this case, Pakistanis have shown more-than-necessary hospitality to Aghans, in the name of religion, brotherhood etc. But what did we get in return?
    Only hatred.
    We are facing our own issues on so many levels. A nation which isnt self suffient to take care of its own needs shouldnt be burdened to take care of millions of people who have in return given us hatred and have been threat to our country. Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    What did you say?
    KPK is Afghan territory ?
    Keep Dreaming.
    Indians think Pakistan is Indian territory.
    We did not let that happen , we certainly will not let you take KPK.
    Stop imitating your Indian masters.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Stevnson??!! Get reall mate I think that is how you got citzienship in one of those western countries. I bet you are a punjabi acting to be a Pakhtun.. wake up mate.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Afghani is their currency name okay rupee :).. Go educate yourself before commenting on international affairs… lolRecommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    ehsaan? You mean burn your neighbour’s house and meddle into your neighbours affairs then expect them to salute you and respect you!! How much grateful are you toward Indian’s whose half of country you have take and branded with the name of Pakistan? Remember you still communicate using a language that half of the words are borrowed from those kufar hindus and half from those ungrateful Afghans – time to think and come out of your delusional world!Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    haha Punjabi talking about Pashtuns… how about you bringing back your own refuges from Bangladish???Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Bro they have no shame cause they live in the world of ziaulhaq who used to say Pakistan is the fortress of islam lolRecommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    I liked this comment:
    “Go home Punjabis! You are the criminal refugees from the other side of the Indus. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is Afghan territory. The whole world knows that except for you Pakistanis”Recommend

  • PJ

    Looks like an YOU, an Afghani got a hold of a computer
    and learned rudimentary English….from the
    American soldiers.
    Well, maybe a hindu pretending ….to be Afghani…Recommend

  • PJ

    Durrani?…Sounds like a hindu pretending to be Afghani.
    Because, basically, Afghanis don’t know how to read and
    write English.Recommend

  • PJ

    Ah there! Pak is half the size of YOUR beloved Hindustan?
    Seen a map lately? Nope YOU have not. Because Afghanis
    are basically spittoon carriers for their brothers in HATE…
    the hindus. and are 95% illiterate.
    Have a welcoming committee ready,..your 5 million brothers and sisters will be returning from Pakistan…sooner than you think.Recommend

  • PJ

    Well, considering you are very likely a hindu, pretending to
    be Afghani..on a borrowed computer….somewhere in a
    slum in Delhi.Recommend

  • HassaanM

    In Pakistan, we call you border-hoppers Afghanis – doesn’t matter if its your currency name or not.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    First of all let me tell you Afghani is our currency and recommend you to educate yourself, secondly we are not ashamed of our identity and do not name our towns, surnames, missiles, schools after hero’s of a different country (in this case Pakistani naming after Afghans) and thirdly I don’t care whether you think I am Afghan or Indian. Both are human and I don’t mind, your grandfather is hailing from a place called India :) if you still want me to help bring you out of your delusional world drop me your email so that I write you a letter in Pashtu and tell you to find real names for things in your country!
    Za la Khaira!Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    if you put d e c u a e t together you get Educate and I recommend that for ya!

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    hahah oh boy I reckon your real name must be Previously-Known-Joker :)Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Still I reckon educate will be a good remedy for ya. If you wanted to come to Kabul I can give you a better remedy you can touch and feel it and would say enormous…
    Thing is we are not stuck with the language that was invented by brits for their solders, reality hurts but we have our own languages and have the talent to learn foreign languages… we always see smokes coming from that side of Afghanistan cause some ppl are burning and that burning smoke changes their color too.. how can you get fair skin if inside is burning…!!???Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    You know in Afghanistan we call Pakistanis the “daal khors” not something bad it is just “lentil eaters” and surprisingly that is the national food of Pakistan.. that is the only food you guys used to get before Afghans moved on the other side of the Durand line. With our relocation we brought you manners and culture and thought you how to behave cause brits only exploited you ppl. Let me remind you that from appetizers to mains and desert all you get on your table is a copy and originals can be found in Kabul and other cities of Afghanistan, from your towns to your missiles name anything has its roots in Afghanistan, from your school books to national anthem all you have is because of grace of those Afghans and you call us illiterate, next time please use your Pakistani names and Pakistani stuff. Go and google and see what percentage of your population uses our names Balkhi, Jami, Ghuri, Ghaznawi, Abdali, Duranni??

    There are Afghan who still look down at you knowing that nothing is original in Pakistan! We don’t need to read or write English cause it is not our masters language.. by the way how does it feel knowing that your master is going through some rough time “brixit”?? I offer my condolences..Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    Go and play your video games!Recommend

  • HassaanM

    Still better than conversing with an Afghani.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    No wonder why Afghans hate you the most look at your attitude!Recommend

  • Mujtaba

    I am Pakistani . I agree 10 % Afghans may be bad but so as 20 % of Pakistanis . But as it our own country so 20 % are accepted to us but 10 % Afghani’s are not accepted .
    I think we should develop a system and make use of All afghans . Let them live in Pakistan if they want to .

  • np

    what about those in Canada and UK who go as refugees and live on state benefits? Not all people emigrating from Pakistan are highly skilled. You should once in a while check which country sends maximum number of refugees to Canada, Norway etc.

    Plus she referred to Muslims nit just Pakistanis. Europe is giving refuge to millions of people escaping war zone in Syria.Recommend

  • gp65

    This maybe true about Pakistanis in US and Australia but not about those in Canada, UK and Norway. A large number of them went as refugees and live on state benefits.

  • gp65

    New buddy India. Are you confusing the Afghans living in Afghanistan who definitely value India with the Afghans living in Pakistan who have not shown any disloyalty to Pakistan?Recommend

  • p r sharma

    Pakistan is not showing hospitality to Afghani refugees. Pakistan is the cause to make them refugees. . In the guise of stopping USSR Pakistani army created, nurtured supported and provided weaponry to Taliban and let them loose to terrorize Afghans. Virtually used them as their proxy to practically rule Afghanistan. Now decide who is the oppressor and who are the victims.Recommend

  • Alter Ego

    We have schools ,universities, hospitals , stock exchange,markets ,jets,tanks , armies,roads,bridges , government system,businesses.
    What have you got , your guns, your child brides , your smuggling.
    You are like a leech for Pakistan.

    You teach us manners?
    When you cant even teach your children basic education.Recommend

  • Ze-yom-Durrani

    haha all those things you named is as a result of begging call it “Khairat”
    I bet our children has better manner than your leaders!Recommend

  • Abdul Basit afridi

    Durrani saib wake up !!!!!
    If u have everything better than us then y u are not leaving our land, we are busy in forceful repatriation of afghan refugees.
    I m from FATA and this is not ur territory bcoz the people of FATA AND KPK has decided through referendum that they want to join pakistan

  • Muhammad Ali

    More than 70 % of Afghanis are always in favor of Pakistan and they even want to merge with Pakistan. Why not entertain them?Recommend

  • Noni

    Not different than what Pakistanis do in Arab countries. they should o back and fx their country and leave Arab countries in peace.Recommend