Islamabad - “In early 80s my father migrated to Pakistan. I was born in Sadda Town of Kurram Agency. After the death of my father in 1992, we moved to Rawalpindi and I started work in an automobile workshop. I married during my stay in Rawalpindi and have fathered four children. My children consider Rawalpindi as their hometown and they even can’t imagine leaving it.”

Zadran Khan, an Afghan national who lives in Chah Sultan Bazaar of Rawalpindi, said this while talking to The Nation. He is worried for his family, as the government has started crackdown on Afghan migrants following militants’ deadly attack on Army Public School Peshawar in December 2014.

“Afghans feel insecure since the attack; we think anytime we could be sent back to our homes,” said Zadran who for the last time visited his village Nangar Khel in Paktika province of Afghanistan in 1999. “I have no residence there and it would be very difficult for people like me to adjust in war-torn Afghanistan.”

Some relatives of him, through unfair means, got Pakistani nationality but it was his greed for “ration and other facilities as Afghan refugees” that he did not try to get Pakistani nationality. “I have POR (proof of registration)” with validity date of December 31, 2015 but the current situation shows that we would be compelled to leave the country before the expiry of the cards.”

According to UNHCR, Pakistan hosts almost 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees while the aid agency has facilitated the return of 3.8 million registered Afghans from Pakistani since 2002. “To complement UNHCR and partners’ international support, the government of Pakistan has extended Afghan refugees’ Proof of Registration (PoR) cards until the end of 2015, issued birth certificates for 800,000 Afghan refugee children, provided land for several refugee villages, and given refugees access to public schools and health clinics.” However, Afghan refugees say that the treatment of police and other law-enforcement agencies are making them to flee the country well before December 2015.

 “Police have started harassing us just for our Afghan background. Despite holding PoR, they (police) are treating us harshly,” said Wali Khan, a fruit vender in Fruit Market Islamabad.  The Afghanis complain that all the Afghans should not be treated like the same.

They agree that some of the Afghan nationals might be involved in terrorism related activities in Pakistan but the whole Afghans should not be punished. “Pakistani Taliban are also behind many terrorist activities in Afghanistan,” he alleged and added  “but Kabul never expel Pakistanis who are doing jobs in Afghanistan.”

According to Zar Wali, an Afghan national living in Raja Bazaar, whenever the government starts crackdown on Afghan refugees, the police arrest innocent people and let them go after paying the bribes. “Afghan refugees are sources of earning for the police,” he alleged. Muhammad Amin, who is a vegetable vender at Pir Wadhai Rawalpindi, said that Afghan refugees love Pakistani like their own country Afghanistan. “I was born here, I am attached to this country more than my own. We are loyal to this country and no one should question our sincerity and loyalty.”

Salim, 10, is an Afghan boy who scavenges in the streets of Margalla Town. He said that his family is not worried if they are sent back to Afghanistan. He wakes up early in the morning and collects glass bottles, plastics and papers in the market and streets.

He and his younger brother Rashid support their father. “My father says that there is no difference for the poor whether they live in Pakistan or Afghanistan. If the government had helped us, we would happily return to Kunar.” However, they are worried about the security situation of their village where Taliban are ruling the roost.

Since the Peshawar carnage, hundreds of non-registered and registered Afghan refugees have fled across the border.

According to an official at Torkhan border, since the Peshawar incident Afghan families are leaving Pakistan at a very high rate as compared to previous years.

Record reveals that during the month of January 2015, the number of returning unregistered Afghan refugees was high than the number of returning families throughout 2014.