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Pakistan's Afghan Refugees
* Who Ace They?
Since the springoreillion Afghans have been registered as refugees in Pakistan. Registration records indicate thatoercent of them are Pushtun tribesmen, comprisinghird cf theillion pushtun ethnic community in Afghanistan. (About half of Afghanistan'sopulation was classified asany of the refugees brought livestock with them and most of them are farmers or farm laborers; some are pastoral nomadsesser but significant number among them are professionals and the well-to-do. (U)
Based1 Census of Pakistan figures, the Afghan refugees have doubled the population in Pakistan's western borderland's. To deal more effectively with the massive numbers, Pakistani relief officials group refugees where possible "into campsersonsamilies each.efugee Tented Villages (RTVs) have been established, most of which are located in the formerly completely rural Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), (u)
The majority of the camps are clustered in six areas near major points of entry into Pakistan: the Bajaur-Dir area, the environs of Peshawar, the Kurram River valley, and the Gumal River valley in the NorthFrontier Provincend the pish.in-Quetta and the Chagai Hills areas in Baluchistan. Where possible, relief officials attempt to locate the camps at leastiles from the border to avoidrovocation for Soviet cross-border raids. The camp sites are adjacentotorable road,ource of water, and on land not suitable for agriculture or other immediate use by the local population. Food and shelter (tents) arc provided by international relief organizations and volunteer agencies, but water supplies, grazing space, and firewood for fuel are scarce, (u)
The GOP publicly refrains from giving the refguces other than temporary status, by allowing the use of only temporary shelternd by discouraging activities that would place the refugees in competition with the local population, particularly in ethnically sensitive Baluchistan. At the same time, efforts are quietly being made to disperse camp populations away froa the border both for security reasons and to alleviate the strain on over-burdened resources in the frontier areas, (u)
The Afghan refugees are largely confined to Pushtun ethnic areas in NWFP and Baluchistan where they share kinship tiesultural value system with the people among whom they live. Although us Embassy officials report little open resentment of the refugees, some discontent has been voiced from those groups affected by the refugee presence, namely:
a narrow segment of the middle class pinched by
rising prices for consumer items, food, and housing;
lower economic class groups with incomes in the
range of GOP support payments to the refugees;
those tribesmen in direct competition with the
refugees for water resources and grazing areas;
Shi'ite tribesmen in conflict with Sunni Afghan
refugees in the crowded Kurram Valley.
We believe the ethnic bond hasey factor in the relatively low level of friction to date between the refugees and the local inhabitants, given the population pressures on scarce resources in the region. The tolerance for the refugee presence, however, is likely to change to increasing resentment as the perception grows that the refugees will continue to be recipients of government income payments and as they become job and resource competitors.
The refugee camps are located in areas that have been experiencing heavy outmigration over the past decade. The probAble cause, according to a- World Bank study, is the continuing degradation of the natural environment in an area where traditionallyercent of the tribesmen have been dependent on some form of subsistence agriculture. .More specifically, the world Bank report pinpointed increased erosion and lowered agricultural productivity resulting from overgrazing, overcutting of the reg.ionls tree growth for firewood, and poor farming techniques.
Since the resource base is inadequate for its native population, we believe it unlikely that large numbers of refugees can be sustained in these regions without continuing government subsidies or by some form of economic development that compensates for the lack of natural resources. Tribal lan.ihol.Ung patterns preclude the sale of land to farmers among the refugees, and grazing privileges in the largely barren.land closely guarded, leaving little scope to Jjcccnrooiate refugees
The support of the insurgency in Afghanistan by groupsencampments i'n Pakistan constitutes a rationaleincursions into the country to take action against Reliable sources assert that the GOP is likely toto restrain support activityevel below thatprcopt Soviet military intervention.
is growing concern among thoughtful ['akic.aiu?
'draw an analogy with the Palestinians, that these well-armed groups couldroublesome security problem in the borderlands. We believe that refugee support activities can be moderated but cannot be halted completely.because of the lack of close border control and the widespread- sympathy for the refugees' objectives among their ethnic kindred in Pakistan. Dispersing refugee camps to other locations away from the border would dilute their status as an attractive nuisance target for the Soviets, but those refugees most actively engaged in cross-border activities would probably resist leaving the frontier area.
GOP officials fear the Soviet use of Afghan refugees and/or Pakistani Pushtun tribesmen for subversive activities in the politically volatile borderlands. They are apprehensive that should the refugees lose faith in an eventual return to their homelands, they may well become active in NWFP tribal politics, rekindling agitation for an autonomous Pushtunistan on Pakistan territory. Their presence in large numbers in the borderlands would cause those demands toerious throat to the GOP efforts to integrate the tribal areas into theof Pakistan, we believe the reported increase in size of the Army's Frontier Corps may be related more to potential refug< activities than to prospects of Soviet intrusions.
In our opinion, Pakistan's peacekeeping efforts in the borderlands have been made more difficult by the introduction of more numerous and sophisticated weapons among refugee groups and local tribesmen in the wake of the Afghan Insurgency. Warfare isport among the Pushtun. ribal society that traditionally settles disputes with guns, intertribal clashes are likely to escalate quickly out of control. On anotherisquieting factor for the Pakistani military, in any future confrontation with armed Pushtun tribesmen, is the experience and confidence the Pushtun have^gained combating technologically superior Soviet forces.
We believe.that the refugees arerolonged to indefinite stay in Pakistan, despite the effort of the GOP to characterize them as "temporary guests". The refugees are unlikely to return to Afghanistan permanently as longSoviet-backed government is in power. Even if conditions in Afghanistan become conducive for repatriation, it is unlikely that all of the refugees will return, particularly the landless laborers among them. The longer their sojourn in Pakistan, the more likelyarger number will take up permanent residence in Pakistan. M
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