Afghanistan Plans Relocation of Refugees Settled Along Durand Line

Afghanistan Plans Relocation of Refugees Settled Along Durand Line

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has announced its intention to relocate refugees settled alongside the Durand Line to other provinces within Afghanistan, according to an official statement on Sunday. Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid stated that this move is aimed at providing assurance to Islamabad that these refugees are not involved in attacks against the Pakistani government.

The Islamic Emirate’s plan involves transferring refugees from Khost and Kunar provinces, located on the Afghan side of the Durand Line, to more distant provinces. By doing so, they aim to distance the refugees from the border and demonstrate that they are not associated with any attacks occurring in Pakistan.

In 2014, a military operation conducted by the Pakistan Army in the North Waziristan District resulted in the displacement of numerous civilians into Afghanistan, primarily in Khost and Paktika provinces. Although some refugees have since returned, an estimated 72,000 individuals, most of them residing in the Gulan Refugee Camp near the internationally recognized border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, still remain. Additionally, clashes along the Durand Line in May 2019 displaced 750 families from North Waziristan to Khost, as well as over 400 previously settled refugee families from Paktika.

The specific criteria for selecting which refugees will be included in the relocation process has not yet been clarified. However, military analyst Asadullah Nadim expressed concerns about the potential consequences, emphasizing that shifting either Pakistani Taliban or displaced refugees along the Durand Line could lead to the integration of different populations. He also stated that, based on their definition, the “far areas” are those without Pashtuns, and such a relocation might not be beneficial for the people or the region as a whole.

In relation to the relocation, Hina Rabbani Khar, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the Cabinet of Pakistan, previously emphasized that engagement with the interim government in Afghanistan is “preconditioned” on addressing the issue of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The relocation of Afghan refugees settled alongside the Durand Line, as proposed by the Islamic Emirate, reflects a strategic effort to enhance security and provide reassurance to Pakistan regarding the refugees’ non-involvement in attacks against their government. By relocating refugees from Khost and Kunar provinces to more distant regions within Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate aims to demonstrate that these individuals are not associated with any cross-border hostilities.

The relocation plan raises questions about the specific criteria for selecting which refugees will be included in the process. Furthermore, concerns have been raised regarding the potential integration of different populations and the implications of resettling individuals in areas without Pashtuns. It remains crucial to ensure that the welfare and interests of the refugee population are prioritized throughout the relocation process.