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2017.11.16

The strong bond between local people and Afghan refugees in Pakistan

Chakdara (my village) is the gateway to District Lower Dir. It lies on the north of Malakand on the north bank of the Swat River. District Lower Dir, especially Chakdara, is home to thousands of Afghan refugees when they fled war during the late 1970s. Most of the Afghan refugees were born here but are still citizen of Afghanistan. They are under the protection of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A Refugee camp has been in Chakdara since Afghans were displaced from their home land. I have lots of Afghan refugee friends from my school days. We studied and grew up together. We have participated in each other’s ceremonies for the last 40 years. The culture of our Afghan friends is almost the same as ours. Majority of the Afghan refugees are Pashtu speakers which is also the native language in my hometown. The language, clothing, food, art, music and ceremonies are same. We also have the common religion and beliefs. Even the physical appearances are the same so no one can differentiate between the afghan refugees and the local people. Lots of local males are married to Afghan women and vice versa. In short, Afghan refugees and Pashtuns in Pakistan have a strong bond and connection due to their common roots and culture.

[Local people buying vegetables from shops owned by Afghan refugees]
20171116_af_01_buying_vegetables_2


As Afghan refugees don’t have many job opportunities here, most of them prefer to do their own business. They are doing every kind of business like shop keeping, hairdressers,  property dealers, and gem dealers. But the majority of the refugees are doing the business of selling vegetables, fruits and cloths. The shops of fruits and vegetables are almost completely owned by Afghan refugees. Besides that, a large number of Afghan refugees have invested hugely in the business of clothes. Apart from that large number of Afghan refugees are daily labourers.

[ Fruit business is one of the preferred businesses amongst Afghan refugees]
20171116_af_02__fruit_business_2


The Afghan refugees in the area mix up with local people and both have been living together in peace for the last 40 years. Currently, a large number of Afghan refugees are returning to their homeland. Hopefully, they bring back the pleasant memories of their long stay in Pakistan.
Some more photos are given below:

[A view of an Afghan refugee in his shop]
20171116_af_03__shop_2

[A view of vegetable shops owned by Afghan refugees]
20171116_af_04_vegetable_shop_2

Hanief Khan
Senior Programme Assistant

Note:
Pakistan is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees/1967 Protocol and has also not enacted any national legislation for the protection of refugees nor established procedures to determine the refugee status of persons who are seeking international protection within its territory (http://unhcrpk.org/about/asylum-system-in-pakistan/). Therefore, refugees’ life depicted in this article may differ from that in other countries.

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November 16, 2017 in Afghanistan |