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No Change In Policy? Pakistan Arrests 205 Afghan Refugees, Labels Them ‘Terrorists’

Law enforcement personnel in Pakistan’s Punjab province have confirmed the arrest of at least 205 Afghan nationals, in the last 24 hours, following a province-wide search and sweep operation. The provincial counter-terrorism department (CTD) has said that these men were on a mission to perpetrate ‘terror’ in Pakistan.

Pakistan-backed Taliban has created havoc in Afghanistan. Violence and economic deterioration in Afghanistan has forced thousands of refugees to flee to Pakistan in search of jobs, medical care and shelter. They continue to live in poorly maintained camps along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Pakistan has repeatedly violated international conventions on treatment of refugees. Pakistan army, Amnesty International says, has unlawfully detained, tortured, deported and killed refugees from Afghanistan in the past and continues to do so. Pakistani authorities have carried out a campaign of abuses and threats to drive out nearly 600,000 Afghans since July 2016, Human Rights Watch has said in a report released in February 2016.

“There is no doubt that these are people living in desperate situations and they are not there out of their own will. It is because of the situation in Afghanistan and it is our duty to ensure that they live as comfortably as we can make them live,” said Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, in July 2016.

Though Khan accepted that these refugees live in desperate conditions, he did not move away from Pakistan Army’s line of accusing them of carrying out terror attacks in Pakistan. Blaming India and Afghanistan for anything that goes wrong in Pakistan, from seasonal floods to terror attacks, has become a norm in the country.

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