Monday Jul 05, 2021
Sindh Minister for Agriculture, Supply, and Prices Muhammad Ismail Rahoo on Monday demanded the federal government establish refugee camps for Afghans in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the merged districts (erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas).
The provincial minister's demand comes three days after the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan seems imminent, as all the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and US troops left the largest airbase in Afghanistan.
"The borders should be sealed so that people cannot enter Pakistan due to the war in Afghanistan. Although, if migration becomes imminent, then refugee camps should be set up in areas adjacent to the Afghan border," he said.
The provincial minister highlighted that Sindh, particularly Karachi, are under pressure from the increasing population, and as a result, there is already a law and order crisis and unemployment in the metropolis, among several other issues.
Rahoo said that due to the troops' pullout in Afghanistan, there were concerns that the Afghans might start migrating to Pakistan.
"Sindh cannot bear to house more immigrants, as the Afghans who had arrived in the province during [former president General Zia-ul-Haq's] tenure, have not left yet," he added.
How many Afghan refugees are expected?
As many as 500,000-700,000 Afghan refugees are expected to come to Pakistan, an in-camera meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security was informed last week, according to sources.
The US expects to finish withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by the end of August, officials had said Friday, after announcing all American and NATO soldiers had left the conflict-scarred nation's biggest airbase.
Following 20 years of war, US President Joe Biden had set a September 11 deadline for the final pullout of the few remaining soldiers on the ground.
The news Friday that American troops had left Bagram Air Base fueled expectations that the pullout would be completed within days, but White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the troops would be out of the country "by the end of August."
"The president has long felt... that the war in Afghanistan was not one that can be won militarily," she told reporters, adding that the United States would continue to provide security systems and humanitarian assistance in the months ahead.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Imran Khan had reiterated that Pakistan wanted peace to prevail in Afghanistan, as instability in the war-torn country would have effects on the region.
The premier's comments came during his address at an event in Gwadar, where he said countries in the region had expressed interest in reaping the benefits offered by the Gwadar port.
In this scenario, he expressed concern over the law and situation in Afghanistan, which he said, was extremely important for the continuity of development.
"We all want peace and stability to prevail in Afghanistan [...] I spoke to Iran's president, and I told him that Afghanistan's neighbouring countries should push for a political settlement in the [war-torn] nation."