The land we call Pakistan is inhabited by many races since centuries, who proudly call themselves Pakistani today. Be they Syed tracing themselves to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) of Hijaz peninsula, Bukhari of Bukhara, Pasha of Turkey, Chugtai and Changezi of Mongolia, Makrani of Africa, or Parsi of Persia, they all call Pakistan their country of origin. My genealogy takes me to Raja Chib Chander, a Rajpoot from Kangra, Himachel Pardesh (present day India). Although Chib Chander travelled to hills of Bhimber (today’s Azad Kashmir) in sixteenth century to fight against Afghan Muslim invaders yet his seventh generation converted to Islam and settled within the triangle of Gujrat, Jhelum and Bhimber.
Humans have a great tendency to migrate from time to time and place to place. This migration is always for a reason as no one likes to migrate the terrain and environment one gets born into. Economy, persecution, war, threat, environmental changes and relationships are the prime reasons for which humans migrate. Millions of my countrymen migrated to abroad since decades and have their families settled in Europe and America. They were naturalised in their host countries after few years of their inhabitance.
1979 was a disastrous year for Afghanistan as the ruthless Soviet army invaded Afghanistan and bombed it indiscriminately. Thousands of our Afghan brethren lost their lives and loved ones. Helpless Afghans grabbed whatever they could and migrated to whichever the nearest direction to safety they could find. More than three million migrated to Pakistan to save their lives. Initially they thought this invasion would end in few months or few years and they will return back to their homes but this ordeal was never ending. This is the fourth decade that Afghanistan is seeing its blood being spilt by many hands. Soviets blooded Afghanistan for ten years while fighting Mujahideen who were funded and equipped by US, UK, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When Soviets left, civil war broke out within Mujahideen for the control of government. West and US left this mess for Pakistan and Afghanistan to clear by themselves which created more troubles for the region. Pakistan favoured Taliban against Northern Alliance as they saw them a potential force to control the torn Afghanistan. Taliban took control of Kabul, the capital, in 1996 and governed majority Afghanistan through strict Sharia Law till the US invasion in reaction to 9/11. Afghanistan remained a troubled land and even the US invasion could not bring change so that the scattered Afghan population could have returned to Afghanistan.
Afghan migrants in Pakistan, with passage of time, rehabilitated themselves. They married, new ones got born, they studied, they worked, they did business, they built their houses, they married their children and they buried their loved ones in Pakistan with a hope to remain in a peaceful land forever but they never knew that this beautiful dream would only become a nightmare soon. In recent times, Pakistan saw a continuous terrorism and dreadfully speaking that in majority of incidents, not the Afghan immigrants, but Afghan nationals were involved. Few black sheep amongst Afghan immigrants were involved in supporting, propagating, facilitating and financing the terrorist activities in Pakistan. All of these incidents lead to Pakistan government’s action against Afghan migrants and it decided to send Afghan migrants back to Afghanistan.
Here, I would like to mention that it is ethically unlawful to remove an individual from a society in which that individual got born, studied, worked, married, gave birth to next generation and buried his loved ones. If one individual of a community out of thousands is of criminal nature, this does not mean that the whole community should be perceived as criminals and so shall be punished! It is like on every terrorist event in the West, we debate that if a Muslim is terrorist, it does not mean that Islam is a terrorist religion!
I believe the Afghan migrants are not a burden on Pakistan. They certainly should be naturalised in accordance to the Geneva conventions as Pakistan is a signatory state, so that they can actively participate in future of Pakistan. They should be given equal opportunities to compete in life and progress in Pakistan. I am afraid, If they are to be sent back, it would be extremely hard for them to go through a process of rehabilitation once again as all they know about life is life in Pakistan and their own Afghanistan is an alien land for them.
I wonder, if a Makrani, Shabani, Gillani and Jillani can earn a right to live, serve and die for this land then why not an Afghani? If this marvellous land can embrace and feed all of us then why not Afghanis? We need to ask ourselves, is a child born in Pakistan to an Afghan mother, Creation of a Lesser God?