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Message from UNHCR to Pakistan: Not All Refugees from Afghanistan are Terrorists

Afghans in Pakistan are the second-largest refugee population in the world, most having fled the Soviet invasion in 1979

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U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi talks to an Afghan refugee woman during his visit to the UNHCR's Repatriation Center in Peshawar, Pakistan, June 23, 2016. Image source-VOA
  • U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi made remarks in Pakistan on the last leg of his three-nation trip
  • Amid other refugee problems, the world has lost sight of the plight of millions of Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and Iran
  • About 6,000 Afghans have returned home this year from Pakistan, compared with nearly 60,000 last year during the same period

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN

The United Nations dismissed assertions made by Pakistan that Afghan refugees have become a source of terrorism in the country. They urged the government of the country “not to adopt rushed solutions” for sending the displaced population back to Afghanistan.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi made remarks in Pakistan about the last leg of his three-nation trip, which included Iran and Afghanistan, to remind the international community of the importance of solving the protracted Afghan refugee crisis.

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U.N. officials say that amid other refugee problems, the world has lost sight of the plight of millions of Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and Iran.

Dwindling foreign assistance and rising terrorist attacks, they say, have also resulted in a concerted push from the Pakistan government to repatriate about 3 million Afghan refugees, including an estimated 1 million undocumented refugees.

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During his visit to a UNHCR voluntary repatriation center near Peshawar, Grandi addressed refugees’ fears that they are being made scapegoats after attacks or violent incidents in the country.

Afghan refugees. wikimedia commons
Afghan refugees. wikimedia commons

He said that in meetings with Pakistani leaders, he stressed that the whole refugee population must not be blamed or penalized for such actions.

“My appeal is that, not only to the authorities but also to the local population, refugees, as you know, are not terrorists. And if a few of them have been involved in criminal acts, then they should be prosecuted through due process, but according to law, like any other person,” the UNHCR chief said.

Calls for deportation

Afghans in Pakistan are the second-largest refugee population in the world, most having fled the Soviet invasion in 1979. But in recent months, public calls for their deportation have spiked in the wake of worsening relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“The complication is that very often refugees get entangled in security situations besides being a component of a very complex relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is what makes matters very often more complicated,” Grandi said.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Nafees Zakaria on Thursday reiterated Islamabad’s concerns that Afghan refugee camps in the country have become “safe havens for terrorists.”

“There are still about 3 million Afghans in Pakistan. Besides having a bearing on the economy, some of the refugee camps have become a security risk as terrorists and militants use the camps as hideouts,” he said.

Pakistan has not yet announced whether it will renew the legal status of Afghan refugees due to expire June 30, which has raised fears and uncertainty among the displaced population. Grandi, however, said that in his talks with Pakistani leaders, he made the case for extending the deadline.

UNHCR officials say the number of Afghans voluntarily returning home has sharply declined this year, mainly because of an intensified Taliban-led insurgency and deepening economic crisis in Afghanistan.

About 6,000 Afghans have returned home this year from Pakistan, compared with nearly 60,000 last year during the same period, according to the refugee agency.(VOA)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    People should not judge Afghans in such manner. They left their land in search of a better environment. Pakistan should proudly protect these refugees

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What Difference Between Chinese Domination and American Domination?

Chinese government has always been dominant over it's people

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american chinese
Who is more dominant, Chinese government or US government?. Pixabay

By N.S. Venkataraman

Chinese government has not left anybody in doubt, about it’s ambitious target of dominating the world at any cost. Chinese government has been suppressing  freedom of speech in China, taking away the rights of citizens of Hong Kong in authoritarian manner and aggressively occupying the territory of neighbours such as Tibet and part of Indian territory, which it occupied after 1962 Indo Chinese war. China is now claiming Indian province Arunachal Pradesh as it’s own and aggressively claiming territorial right in South China Sea and Senkaku island. Chinese government says that Taiwan is part of it’s territory and objects to any recognition given to Taiwan by any other country.

Further, China is trying to enforce it’s domination over small and weak  nearby  countries  such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and others, by extending loans, which  these countries cannot afford to repay in the foreseeable future.

Viewing China’s methods and targets, one does not find much of difference between today’s Chinese government and Hitler’s Germany. Several countries in the world are  gradually realizing that checking China’s ambition is as necessary, as checking Hitler’s ambition  that caused World War II.

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Chinese government has been suppressing freedom of speech in China. Pixabay

However, the supporters of China claim that US government too should be accused of trying to dominate the world and it has sent troops to several countries such as Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and others to enforce it’s domination. There is an element of  truth in this, as American government seem to think that it has the duty to police the world.

In any case, on careful analysis of the scenario and judiciously comparing the domination desire of China and USA, one cannot but see a subtle difference between both these countries.

While China believes in ruthless elimination of opponents both inside and outside China (just like the way Hitler did) and wants to occupy territories of other countries by coercion or force , US does not indulge in such acts of suppression of human rights or occupying territory of other countries.

US has not concealed it’s desire that freedom of speech and democratic procedures should prevail in all regions in the world. On many occasions , US has fought against totalitarian regimes, religious extremists and terrorist groups and has paid a high price by losing American lives.

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USA desires to dominate the world. Pixabay

USA may have the ambition to dominate the world and ensure it’s authority as super power, but it has no ambition of territorial expansions that China has.

All said and done, if the world were to choose between USA and China, it would inevitably come to the conclusion that world domination by USA is a lesser evil than the world domination by China.

Unlike China, the citizens of USA have the right to criticise the decisions of the government, launch protests against human rights violation, if any and exercise their franchise once in four years to change the party in power, if it would act against the wishes of the people. By such process, the conscience of USA largely remain in tact and US government is vulnerable to the pressure of public opinion, both in USA  and other parts of the world.

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In China, the citizens don’t have the right to criticise the decisions of the government. Pixabay

Also Read: McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

On the other hand, China has totalitarian regime and no citizen can survive in China if he would criticise the Chinese President or question the decision of the Chinese government. To this extent, it is dictatorial regime in China, which can be termed as uncivilized form of governance.

The fact is that USA has been remaining as super  power in the world for several decades now and  the world has not  become worse due to the dominating power of USA. Of course, there have been criticism against US government by some section of world opinion but  most of such critics belong to religious extremist groups  and motivated  leftist (communist) forces , whose economic  and administrative policies  have totally failed to deliver the goods.

Achieving super power status by China   and establishing it’s authority in large parts of the world with least consideration for value systems and sentiments of people, is the worst thing that can happen to the world civilization.

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Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Terribly Neglected In COVID lockdown

COVID Lockdown leaves Afghan Refugees in Pakistan neglected and in despair

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Afghan refugee
Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Suffer under Coronavirus Lockdown as kids are seem playing outside a refugee camp. VOA
By Ayesha Tanzeem

Nearly 2.5 million Afghans live in Pakistan as either registered or undocumented refugees. Their lives have been upended by the coronavirus lockdown, but they seem to be getting little attention. Even though this might not hold much relevance in international news amid the COVID crisis, the lives of the refugees are in a terrible state.

This Afghan refugee settlement in Islamabad doesn’t have electricity or other basic facilities.

Most people here depend on day work for their living.  As the novel coronavirus spread and the country went into a partial lockdown, their livelihoods were nearly destroyed.

“These people hardly made $3-4 per day. Some of them picked up paper from the streets or trash for recycling, some worked as motorcycle mechanics. All of them are now sitting at home,” said Abdul Hameed, Afghan Refugee Representative.

An estimated 800 families, or around 5,000 individuals, live in this settlement. Many of them work at the nearby vegetable market.

“Ever since the coronavirus has spread, the authorities don’t allow us to gather inside the market. We wait along the roadside all day long, but no one gives us work,” said Abdul Khaliq, a day worker.

Refugees
Afghan refugees’s lives have been upended by the coronavirus lockdown. Pixabay

On Tuesday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees announced a cash assistance program for some of them. A two-month delay in making the aid available was blamed on a lack of resources.

“We realized that we would need money that we did not have. We had to go very quickly to donors to explain the level of intervention that we wanted to do. We needed to get confident that the donors were going to support that,” said Iain Hall, Deputy Representative of UNHCR Pakistan.

The U.N. agency acknowledges that the money, while helpful, is not enough to help everyone in need. In addition, half of the nearly three million Afghans living in Pakistan don’t have official refugee status and do not fall under the agency’s mandate.

Also Read: Punjab CM Directs Crack Down on Liquor Smuggling

Meanwhile, in this Islamabad settlement, people have no option but to wait. (VOA)

 

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What is the Future of US-India Relations? Here’s the Answer

The US presidential elections and future of India-US relations

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India USA
Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Howdy Modi' event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump's 'Namaste Trump' event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. Wikimedia Commons

BY FRANK F. ISLAM

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates global news in the United States, progress toward the next presidential election scheduled to be held on November 3 moves slowly forward. President Donald Trump had no real opposition in the Republican party and is running for re-election. And it has now become apparent that former Vice President Joe Biden will be his opponent as the Democratic candidate for president.

What would a Trump victory bode for the future of US-India relations? What would a Biden victory bode? Let me answer each of those questions in turn.

Given the love fests of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston, Texas, in which Trump participated in September of 2019, and Trump’s ‘Namaste Trump’ event hosted by Modi in India in February of this year, it might be assumed that the future for US-India relations is a splendid one. This would be an incorrect assumption.

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Both of these events were more symbolic than substantive. Trump’s participation in them undoubtedly helped to persuade some — perhaps many — Indian American Modi supporters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 to cast their ballots for Trump in 2020. Trump’s campaign team took steps to ensure this by holding an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in which a group of prominent Indian Americans announced their plans to work for his re-election and to mobilize Indian Americans on his behalf.

India USA
It is essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. Wikimedia Commons

To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style.

In a word, the best way to characterize the current relations between the US and India is “functional”. The relationship was relatively good for the first two years of Trump’s presidency. In fact, near the end of 2018, Alice Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, was quoted in the media s saying: “This has been a landmark year for US-India ties as we build out stronger relationships across the board.”

Then, in 2019, the relations went off the track in the first half of the year after the US and India got into a tit-for-tat tariff war after the US terminated India’s Generalized System of Preferences which allowed India to send certain goods to the US duty-free. There have been continuing efforts to structure a “modest” trade deal since then. It was thought there might be some type of deal done in September of 2019 while Modi was in the US by year’s end, and then during Trump’s India visit. But, as of today, there is still no deal.

This inability to get any meaningful trade agreement in place speaks volumes about India’s potential future relations with India with Trump as president. So, too does Trump’s style.

Trump’s campaign slogans this time around are “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.” Trump is not a policy wonk and most of his effort will go toward “America First”. This involves making the US more isolated by withdrawing from international agreements, restructuring trade agreements, emphasizing building walls to stop immigrants at the border, using tariffs to block trade with countries who are taking away American jobs, and confronting businesses who are allegedlly stealing American trade secrets.

This perspective suggests what India can expect for its relations with the US if it has to deal with Trump for a second term as president. The relations will stay functional at best. As I have said before, that’s because the words partnership, cooperation and collaboration are not in Trump’s vocabulary. Nationalism, isolationism and protectionism are.

Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to President Trump both professionally and personally. Biden is a strategic thinker and doer with a solid eight-year track record of leadership experience as Vice-President in forging alliances that have made a difference around the world and he has also been a long-standing friend of India.

India USA
To understand the future potential of India’s relations with the US. with Trump as president, however, it is necessary to look beyond these political moves and to examine the present state of those relations and Trump’s personal style. Wikimedia Commons

He was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the Congressional passage of the Indo-US civic nuclear deal in 2005. At a dinner convened 10 years later in 2015 by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Vice President Biden discussed the tremendous joint progress that had been made by the two countries in the past and declared “We are on the cusp of a sea change decade.”

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Early in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in July of 2019, in laying out his foreign policy vision, Biden stated that the US had to reach out to India and other Asian partners to strengthen ties with them. The items on Biden’s foreign policy agenda for strengthening which are of importance for India include climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyberwarfare.

During his vice presidency, Biden worked side by side with President Barack Obama to do things that would contribute to achieving Obama’s vision stated in 2010 of India and America being “indispensable partners in meeting the challenges of our time.” In 2020, those challenges are even greater than they were a decade ago.

That is why it is so essential that India and the US develop a strategic relationship that enables them to become those indispensable partners. That can happen if Biden assumes the presidency on January 20, 2021. It cannot happen if Donald Trump remains as president for a second term.

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The results of this upcoming election in the US matter greatly for the future of the United States. They matter greatly for the future of India-US relations as well. Time and the American electorate will tell what that future will be. (IANS)