By Islamuddin Sajid
Samiullah Abdullah, 12, is among the several thousand grandchildren of the Afghan war, who are seeking refuge in Pakistan.
His parents were born in Pakistan in the 1980s, when then Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in what followed a nine-year-long war.
“I have never been to Afghanistan. I know nothing about my country. But people here call me an Afghan,” he said.
Abdullah is among the 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan whose fate hangs in the balance after Pakistan refused to extend their duration of stay for another year.
In a meeting chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the capital Islamabad on Wednesday, it was decided that the validity of their residency documents, called Proof of Registration cards, will only be extended for 30 days — after which they will have to return to their home country.
The issue will be raised with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the international community, said a statement released after the meeting.
“Pakistan’s economy has carried the burden of hosting Afghan refugees since long and in the present circumstances it cannot sustain it further,” it added.
30-day extension to stay
The Ministry of State and Frontier Regions, which deals with the influx of Afghan refugees, had proposed a one-year extension but it was denied, a ministry official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
He said security concerns were raised at the meeting.
“Terrorists who cross borders from Afghanistan and carry out attacks in Pakistan mostly hide in refugee camps,” he said.
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