Pakistan police abuse of Afghans peaked after school attack: HRW
KABUL (Pajhwok): Afghan refugees have been facing brazen discrimination and abuse at the hands of Pakistani security personnel after last year’s deadly attack on a school, an international rights group alleged on Wednesday.
More than 150 students and teachers were killed in the attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar on December 16, 2014. Following the attack, the Afghans in Pakistan have been subjected to harsh treatment.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed that the use of harassment, threats and intimidation by Pakistani law-enforcement agencies had reached an all-time high in the wake of the APS attack.
Despite the fact that the investigation into the attack did not yield evidence of significant Afghan involvement, the Afghan population in the country continued to be targeted at the official level, the New York-based rights watchdog claimed.
“In the first week after the [APS] attack... intimidation intensified to unprecedented levels and included threats from police that Afghans should leave the country or face arrest,” a 37-page report from HRW said.
While urging the Pakistan government to end the rampant police harassment, threats, and violence, HRW said its findings were based on interviews with 50 Afghans who had returned to their country and 46 still living in Pakistan.
The group also spoke to Pakistani and Afghan government officials, staff of nongovernmental and community-based organisations, United Nations refugee agency officials, diplomats, journalistsand other experts.
As many as 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees and a million undocumented Afghans are living in Pakistan as of November 2015. They include many who fled conflict and repression in Afghanistan during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and their descendants.
Some arrived as children, grew up in Pakistan, married, and had children of their own who have never lived in Afghanistan. Others have arrived in the decades of turmoil in Afghanistan, seeking security, employment, and a higher standard of living.
In the wake of police high-handedness, many Afghans returned to their country, where they faced a widening conflict and continuing insecurity, the report said. Deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan have already prompted more than 80,000 Afghans to leave their country in 2015.
HRW urged donors to consider providing additional support to Pakistan and Afghanistan to assist the refugee population and returnees, including improving their access to education services, healthcare, housing, and land.
The government of Afghanistan was asked to ensure all Afghan returnees have the freedom to settle where they wished and have access to health, education, and land allocation services regardless of their registered status in Pakistan.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.