A senior UN official on Saturday has urged Pakistan to resolve the status of more than 2.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan whose registration cards have expired or who remain unregistered. In December, 1.5 million refugees were given a 6 month extension when their registration expired. The problem is the sheer number of refugees the state has to grapple with, and the government seems to be at a loss over what to do with these people amidst a plethora of other crises facing the resources of the country.

Afghans say they are hassled by police for carrying the expired cards, and those who are still unregistered also face difficulties with the authorities. This is an unfortunate situation, but something that even the Pakistani citizen has to face most a lot of the time due to administrative inefficiencies. That Afghans are not native, only exacerbates the problem, as officials as well as citizens know that resources are scarce. The parallel system of bribes and corruption of officials is also flourishing, furthering the exploitation of the refugees

Our system is exhausted, and the problem has been termed “host fatigue”. Pakistan is hosting almost 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees – the largest protracted refugee population globally. The government is trying to improve education and opportunities for the 70 percent of the refugees who are under 25 so they do not fall into crime or recruitment by radical elements. But the same problem is also faced by the IDP population as well as the people of the war-torn FATA. With security in Afghanistan deteriorating over the past year, many refugees have no interest in going home.

We have done our part in the humanitarian disaster that have been the Afghan wars, and we have no other choice but to continue to do so, unless we abandon these people and encourage a mass exodus. Most of these people have never really lived in Afghanistan and will not be welcomed in their own country. The problem has no solution, until Afghanistan itself can absorb back their charges, and even then many will want to stay (illegally if they can). This was a humanitarian crisis, and thus the UN and its member states were responsible if any steps were to be taken to protect the Afghan people. Dwindling funds and support from international donors are to blame as well. The UN can put pressure on Pakistan all it wants, but it must also realise that the Afghan people are not the sole responsibility of the Pakistani state.