Pakistan: No More Refugees, Please

Country cracks down on illegal Afghan immigrants, fearing flood after US withdrawal

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 13, 2014 4:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – If violence erupts when the US leaves Afghanistan, refugees are going to find the world a very unwelcoming place. Pakistan is cracking down on illegal immigrants from its turbulent neighbor, in anticipation of just such a surge, the Washington Post reports. Police squads in Karachi are actively hunting Afghan immigrants, and officials throughout the northwest are implementing policies to make it harder for Afghans to either rent homes or squat. And in March, the government sent bulldozers to destroy settlements outside Islamabad.

The crackdown comes as Iran is pressuring its own population of Afghan refugees to leave. Pakistan has had one of the world's largest refugee populations ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but tension with immigrant populations has been on the rise as the Afghans move to urban areas. Last year, lawmakers agreed that legally registered Afghans could remain through 2015, but they're not keen to take on more illegal ones—and already fewer refugees are returning home. "I believe the influx is already here," says Pakistan's chief commissioner for refugees. But "we are in a very tight situation ourselves." Click for the full story.

An Afghan refugee boy walks in an alley of a refugee camp in the rain in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, May 12, 2014.
An Afghan refugee boy walks in an alley of a refugee camp in the rain in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, May 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
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