Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Refugee Crisis

But not just any refugee crisis, according to UNHCR which describes this particular situation between Afghanistan and Pakistan as the "largest and most protracted refugee crisis in the world".  How would they then qualify the Palestinian 'refugee crisis'?  Protracted, most certainly, since although the Afghanis fled their crisis-torn country 32 years ago, the Arab Palestinians fled theirs on a song and a promise well over 60 years ago.

For the Palestinians the United Nations created a very special refugee-assistance supporting body, UN Relief & Works Agency, UNRWA which did not seek permanent refuge and placement for the original estimated 350,000 fleeing Palestinians. It is more concerned with the encouragement of a return than an absorption of those refugees which now claim to number in the multiple-millions.

Pakistan has been burdened with 1.7 million refugees, including hundreds of thousands of others who are unregistered, having illegally migrated from Afghanistan.  The UN High Commissioner for Refugees searches for a solution to yet another seemingly intractable problem of people fleeing their homelands in search of security.  Those refugees can, if developed countries allow, migrate there.

"No country allows illegal immigrants, how it is (sic) possible to legalize something which is illegal?"  A rhetorical question on the part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's information minister, Mian Ifukhar Hussain.  It is in Pakistan's northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where most of these undocumented 400,000 Afghans live.  Shades of Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns".

If course the situation began with the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in its futile, death-dealing and utterly impossible determination to stop what they foresaw as an fanatically fundamentalist Islamist government taking over the country and complicating their own stability.  Their installation of a communist Afghani leadership met the inevitable challenges of a people insistent they would find their own solutions.

And, thanks to neighbour Pakistan in collusion with the U.S. CIA, Islamist mujahadeen were trained and armed and given shelter, then sent into Afghanistan to do their sacred duty by Islam which abhors the very idea of a secular-ideological administration in a culture dedicated to the fundamentals of pure Islam.  Pakistan, then and now, with its continuing support of the resulting Taliban, is itself hugely responsible for the plight and the flight of Afghan citizens desperate to escape the ravages of brutal conflict victimizing them.

"We have been accommodating Afghan immigrants for 32 years.  The provincial government cannot take their burden any more, they should go back to their country", huffs Mr. Hussain.  Who should in fact be speaking to the heads of Pakistan's military apparatus, and its secret service, to convince them to put a halt to supporting the Afghan Taliban.

Peace might then proceed to gradually overtake that desperately benighted country.  Perhaps then Afghan farmers would no longer farm poppies, supplying 90% of the world's trade in heroin, preferring instead to be able to adequately feed the population.  And the corrupt government of Afghanistan would be pressured successfully by those in the international forum who fund it, to channel aid where it belongs.

But equally corrupt and far more sinister Pakistan with its paranoia and fearful suspicions about its neighbours' intentions has no wish to become a good and decent neighbour.  And so, migrants desperately seeking shelter enter Pakistan and Iran where they look for personal solutions to generalized miserable social failures.

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