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The Plight of Afghan Children in the Shadows of Conflict

On October 26, Pakistan’s government gave a last warning to all illegal immigrants in the country, together with hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals, to leave voluntarily before November 1. The decision came after Afghan nationals were found to be involved in crimes, smuggling, and attacks against the government and the military, including 14 out of 24 suicide bombings this year, reported the Afghan Diaspora Network. A land where destitute Afghanis once sought refuge and solace is forcing them out of what has now become their homeland. They escaped the terrors of the Taliban and are now faced with the wrath of the Pakistani government and the military.

This is a picture I came across on Twitter of detained Afghan kids entering the Sultanabad detention center. This picture brings me immense shame in being a citizen of Pakistan – a country that does not respect humans and children. It reflects a government that appears hypocritical, condemning Israel while dehumanizing refugees within its borders. Children all over the world are children. Be it Palestinians or Afghan refugees, all children deserve the right to be protected, to stay with their parents, not to be displaced, to be loved by their mothers, to be educated, and not to be subjected to violence.


No child is illegal.


An Afghan refugee in Karachi expressed concerns, stating, "We're tolerating what they're doing with our women and kids, and if it continues, what's happening in Palestine will happen here too." The two most vulnerable segments of the population are being targeted solely for political reasons. Going back to Afghanistan would mean living under constant fear and threats from the Taliban. Women’s mobility and education will be restricted, and children won’t be able to access good quality education.


The academic year in Palestine was suspended because there weren’t any children left to attend the schools anymore. And Pakistan is forcibly disrupting the education of young children by detaining them and terrifying them. A country that still suffers from the trauma of the APS attack has the audacity to label Afghan children as illegal immigrants. This forceful expulsion is not a recent occurrence; Sharbat Gula, the famous Afghan girl, was arrested on charges of fraudulent identity in 2016. She served 15 days in prison and was then deported to Afghanistan, away from a “very good life in Pakistan.” She blamed the photo for her arrest, saying: “The photo created more problems than benefits. However, in November 2021, Gula was granted asylum in Italy, three months after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.


The plea to prioritize education response funding, in line with basic needs like water, food, shelter, and health, remains pertinent. Pakistan, as a host country, has consistently failed to provide adequate provisions for Afghan refugees. Instead of mirroring the harsh tactics of states like Israel, Pakistan should approach the issue of illegal citizens with humanity, exploring avenues for resettlement and identity document processing.


The question persists: Can Pakistan chart a course that respects the principles it ostensibly champions? The situation demands a recalibration of policies, aligning actions with the professed ideals of humanitarian responses. The world watches, not just as a nation confronts its own internal contradictions but as it shapes its identity on the global stage.


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19 comentários


This blog beautifully captures the tough situation Afghan children are facing due to being displaced. It's sad to see innocent kids going through such hardship because of politics. As someone living here, it's really upsetting to witness this treatment, and I firmly believe that every child, regardless of where they're from, should have a safe place to grow up and learn. The blog talks about Pakistan's responsibilities well, but it would be interesting to explore potential long-term solutions or collaborative initiatives involving neighboring countries or international organizations to ensure a more sustainable future for displaced Afghan children. Just like the genocide in Palestine, everyone is talking about these afghan refuges but nothing is being done to solve this issue.

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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
01 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

Involving international organisations is always a slippery slope because as already discussed in comments, Pakistan does not seem ready to face a global conflict. But the idea of collaborating with neighbouring countries might be worth exploring, depending upon Pakistan’s diplomatic strategies. It is time that we demand for long-term solutions because this has been happening since years and seems as if it won’t be stopped unless there is active resistance. I believe that we should actively condemn the government for these unfair policies and the distress they’ve causing to Afghan refugees and even some of the Pashtun men the police is falsely accusing. Sitting in our homes we cannot even imagine what it must be like for an Afghan chil…

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This makes me question how the refugees will settle once they go back, would they have access to education? if they do, how would they cope with the new education since education everywhere is different. The fact that there are children involved makes this issue deeply upsetting. It makes one question about their future. I also wonder what ideologies these refugees carry with them? I am thinking also the different levels of impact and effects on the refugees.

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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
01 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

This is definitely an important question to raise. How can people cope with a new home, new environment, and setting and be expected to simply accept it. For most of them, their home has been Pakistan. The impact on refugees is distressing. It invokes a sense of shared struggle and underscores the irony of a nation that has faced the horrors of violence within its own educational spaces now contributing to the disruption of the education of young. It reminds me of how Pakistan treated sharbat gula, getting her arrested and deported back to Afghanistan. Why must girls and young children suffer due to Pakistan’s failure to maintain diplomatic strategies. A country that advocates for humanitarian stability and peace f…

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The position of refugees turned ‘illegal immigrants’ is necessary to explore in Pakistan, thank you for your blog which talks about a current and pressing issue. I wonder how much of this ideology and the persistent labelling of these Afghan children is motivated politically with no space given to the humanitarian or educational aspects of the conflict itself. It is easy to maintain a position on the APS attack for the military and the government, but the state narrative crumbles when it is applied to these children, who for all intents and purposes, are as Pakistani as any ‘legal’ citizen.

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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
01 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thank you for your comment. As Fatima has also mentioned in her comment, according to Pakistani law, anyone born on the soil is a citizen, so what grounds do they have to deport someone who was born and raised in Pakistan. The state seems to have a very weak narrative of issues of global conflict. Maintaining a stance on APS is politically beneficial but it crumbles when it comes to Afghan children. Is the sympathy for Palestine also this week, that in the face of vulnerability, the nations forgets to uphold the principles it proudly advocates for.

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25020004 Fatima Saeed
25020004 Fatima Saeed
29 de nov. de 2023

Thank you, Fizza, for raising this crucial topic! Recently, I came across a heart-wrenching Instagram photo depicting a child bidding farewell to classmates in Peshawar. I couldn't help but wonder about that little boy: Would he have the chance to continue his education in Afghanistan? What does his future hold after leaving Pakistan? That one child made me think about the hundreds and thousands more displaced from their homeland.

According to Pakistani law, anyone born on its soil is a Pakistani national. But what about these innocent children caught in this turmoil?

I recall a similar discussion in our class about the education of Afghan girls. Will they have access to schools in Afghanistan? The most troubling aspect of this…

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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
01 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

Agreed! Despite legal provisions, the reality for these displaced Afghan children might be more complex, especially when policies and practices on the ground don't align with legal frameworks of the country. The uncertainty surrounding their legal status and the potential impact on children's and especially girls' access to education is also deeply troubling. The decision made by an interim government can indeed lead to severe consequences in the future, especially a government that might not have the permanence to ensure consistent and sustainable policies.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts Fiza. The treatment of afghan refugees at the hands of the Pakistani government is nothing but deplorable. What is even more horrendous and violent is that there is no set criteria as to who categorises as these "illegal immigrants". I have heard of registered legal Pakistani citizens being deported jus because they were Afghans. In another instance, one Pashtun man, a father to a 17 year old man was deported since he was Pashtun and so must be afghan yet he turned out to be a Pakistani Pashtun. Keeping these instances in mind, it is important to note then that is this just an eradication of illegal immigrants in line with the policies and…

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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
01 de dez. de 2023
Respondendo a

The absence of a transparent and just process for determining the status of individuals raises concerns about potential violations of human rights and the rule of law. Your mention of a Pashtun man, who, despite being a Pakistani citizen, faced deportation based on ethnic profiling, raises the specter of ethnic cleansing. The absence of well-defined criteria for categorizing individuals as "illegal immigrants" raises significant concerns. Without clear guidelines, there's a risk of arbitrary decision-making, leading to the wrongful targeting and deportation of individuals who may be legally residing in the country. This lack of transparency not only violates the principles of justice and fairness but also leaves room for potential abuse of power. The specific instances you highlight, where registered…

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