Analysis Made a Year Ago

Media Coverage | July 22, 2019

Dangerous Liaisons

May 24, 2018

The Soviet invasion in 1979 precipitated a large influx of Afghans into Pakistan, mainly from the Kabul elite, the affluent bought up residential homes and even small businesses, mainly in transportation. As the war reached the countryside the not so affluent started to cross over to escape being caught in the crossfire. The (mostly Pashtuns) Afghans owned residences in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad serving as “Rest and Recreation” (R & R) facilities for whatever Afghan faction were the rebels at that time. Hayatabad and New University Town in Peshawar is full of rich Afghans. Some of Karzai’s family still lives in Quetta, one of Rashid Dostum’s wives is said to be still living in Islamabad. A few bureaucrats and Kabul elite sought refuge in the Soviet Union when the Talibaan wrested Kabul from Ahmed Shah Masood’s Northern Alliance in the early 90s.

Host to all Afghan factions the refugee camps provided the cannon fodder for whoever the “rebels” were in Afghanistan at any given time. Over three million Afghan refugees have alternated living in Pakistan for nearly four decades, please do forgive us for being somewhat upset that our long-term “guests” are rather ungrateful despite the fact that it is only over the past two years we have been seeking their repatriation.

We were shooting ourselves in the foot benignly ignoring the embarrassing presence of friends and foes alike in a bid to keep the relationship with our neighbor going, unintentionally supports the adverse propaganda that we actively support the Taliban in Afghanistan. With the “rebel” leaders visiting their families, the US perception about a “Quetta Shura” operating a “command and control” center against them has hardened. A public database of Afghans in Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, Karachi, D.I. Khan, etc including their (1) place of origin (with address) in Afghanistan (2) names of relatives living in Afghanistan and/or abroad. With US satellites capable of reading number plates of vehicles, making public the so-called “safe havens” will act as a deterrent for any cross border activities? On the question of sovereignty, while drone attacks on militant commanders hiding in Pakistan cannot be condoned, should we shed any tears for those who have been killing our soldiers and civilians for over a decade plus?

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