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P. 1
Chapter- I

Chapter- I

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Published by Qissa Khwani

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Published by: Qissa Khwani on Dec 11, 2012
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12/16/2012

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4
Chapter- 1
The Strategic Trap for the Afghan Refugees“Kabul Must Burn!”
(General Akhtar Abdur Rahman)
Pakistan’s geopolitics, being borne out of the trauma of colonial India’s partition, has been instrumental in shaping acollective psyche: one where geopolitics overshadows Pakistan’sdomestic politics. The geographical proximity of Pakistan to boththe South Asian and Central Asian areas posed serious threats to itsalready fragile geo-strategic position, in the wake of revolutions,civil wars and turbulence in these regions. Since its inception,Pakistan had been bequeathed with both internal and external problems: geographical divergence, demographic inconsistencies,ideological enigma, constitutional dilemma, economic pitfalls,cultural and ethnic inconsistencies, and above all, politicalchallenges to the well-entrenched
 status quo
of imperial rule in thesubcontinent.The story of migration of the Afghan refugees to areas nowincluded under the name of Pakistan is as old as Afghanistan itself.However, the current study is focuses on those Afghan refugeeswho migrated from Afghanistan in the political upheaval which
 
5started in 1978. Furthermore, the study of these refugees inPakistan should be studied in the particular prism of Pak-Afghanrelations, which is itself a tragic history of incompatibility arisingfrom a colonial past, from dissimilarities of the two peoples’approaches regarding regional and global issues, and fromconsistent denial of each other‘s view points which would be vitalto a meaningful relationship between them. As such, pre-existinglegal or logical principles fail to resolve these disputes the waythey might have in the case of any other two nations. This beingthe case, Pakistanis and the Afghans have been living in a state of constant tension and suspicion since the creation of Pakistan in1947.Despite the many commonalties between Pakistan andAfghanistan, i.e. the ties of a common border 2250 KM long, aswell as those of religion, history, heroes, language(s), and culture,the political elite of both the respective countries, somehow failedto develop close and cordial relations with each other before therise of 
 Mujahideen
government in Afghanistan. Some of the causesof their estrangement were deeply rooted: in the colonial era of theAnglo-Russian rivalry (the ‘Great Game’); in the Anglo-AfghanWars; in humiliating treaties;
1
in the Pashtunistan issue; and in theCold War rivalry between the two superpowers.
2
 
Afghan Revolution and the Influx of Refugees intoPakistan:
In the immediate aftermath of the Soviet militaryintervention in Afghanistan towards the end of 1979, the war clouds in the neighboring country might well have been a blessingfor Islamabad. Pakistan was then relatively isolated internationally.Relation between Washington and Islamabad had reached their 
 
6lowest ebb due to number of factors, including Islamabad’s allegednuclear program; the imposition of sanctions by Carter administration in 1978 and again in 1979; the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (the fallen Prime Minister of Pakistan) in April 1979;and the ransacking of the US Embassy in Islamabad in November 1979, in reaction to the rumored American involvement in anattack on religious extremists in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan’s economywas in a shamble, and its defense forces were armed withantiquated equipment. Thus Soviet intervention in Afghanistan wasnot less than a blessing in disguise for Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorialregime, a chance of to extract itself from the quagmire of internaland external problems. The entire West, led by US, along with theGulf countries, promptly reached out to rescue Pakistan with promises of renewed economic and military assistance, and thisalso quickly boosted Pakistan’s sagging prestige.
3
 The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in December of 1979,for better or for worse, turned the recently non-aligned Pakistaninto a frontline state to tackle with the Red menace creeping intothe neighborhood. Within a few days of the Soviet intervention inAfghanistan, General Zia convened a meeting of senior officials inIslamabad to deliberate on Pakistan’s response. A draft policystatement had been prepared by Agha Shahi, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had hurriedly returned from an official visitto Tehran. The options available for Pakistan, according to Shahi,were only three.1) To confront the Soviet Union directly by participating inthe Afghan resistance2) To acquiesce in the
 faith accompli
imposed and its political implications.

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