Conference on ‘Refugee Crisis and Its Ramifications for Global & National Security’
Speakers stress need for Afghan stability, early repatriation of refugees from Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (May 16, 2016): The refugee crisis is an important issue not only in Pakistan but globally also, as refugees all over the world are causing social, economic and political changes and their number is
increasing from thousands to millions. Dr. Maria Sultan, chairperson and director-general of South Asian
Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) University, stated this in her welcome address at the inaugural session of a two-day international conference on ‘Refugee Crisis and Its Ramifications for Global & National Security’ here Monday.
The conference is being hosted by the SASSI University in collaboration with the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), the office of National Security Advisor and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The SASSI University chairperson said the reasons causing refugees crisis includethe instability, economic deprivation, unavailability of better living conditions and most importantly lack of legislation.
Mentioning another important point, she said, there are 60,000 refugees whodaily cross Pakistani border.
Dr. Maria said the refugees cause political economic and social difficulties in the host countries such as governance and security concerns, escalation of radicalization and vulnerable scarcity of resources. Talking about the undocumented and unregistered persons, she said, they are a matter of grave concern as for security reasons. So, she said, new and fresh ideas are needed to deal with all the issues arising from the refugee crisis.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for SAFRON Lt. Gen. (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch said that refuge problem is a very important issue because refugees are faceless people, not belonging to any state. In third world countries, one doesn’t give much attention to refugee issues as 5-6 million refugees entered Pakistan, which is already a poor country. “We don’t want to spoil our impression so we can’t use force to send them back but we want them to go back to their country with dignity,” he said.
The minister pointed out that the refugees brought with them weapons and drugs which disturbed the peace in Pakistan. He said that Pakistanis are cleaning up the mess through Operation Zarb-e-Azab, which cost Pakistan billions of rupees and human loss in the form of soldiers and civilians. He said the requirements of the six million
refugees were not met by the host country and the international community so we have to find a viable solution to this important issue. He said that three million Afghan refugees — half of them unregistered — are still living in Pakistan.
Expressing grave concern over the growing instability in the region and world failure to bring peace to the Afghan polity, the speakers urged the international community to help the war-ravaged country in establishing exclusively designed peace zones inside its territory along the border with Pakistan and putting an effective joint border management mechanism in place.
“Right of easement cannot be extended to all the Afghan population. Therefore, we request the international community to come up with new efforts and proposals to stabilize Afghanistan, support existing measures, leading to repatriation of its citizens,” Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif said while addressing the inaugural session. He also emphasized that foreign intervention must stop so that conflicts don’t emerge we must not deal with the effects but also the causes.
Khawaja Asif said Pakistan shares 2,560-kilometre porous border with Afghanistan with over 200 unfrequented routes, which serve as points for illicit trafficking of weapons, drugs and humans. “24,000 people from Afghanistan are crossing from Khyber Agency alone per day majority without any legal travel documentation,” he pointed out.
The minister said while the world deals with the Syrian crisis and its global ramifications, no country in the world understands better than Pakistan the implications of refugee crisis and its ramifications for domestic as well international peace and stability. He said the border management is a priority for Pakistan as it deals with the challenge of trans-border terrorism by the groups operating out of Afghan territory.
“Hence where we recognize importance of the right of easement, it cannot be extended to the entire afghan population as 81.2 percent Afghans travel to Pakistan without any legal travel documentation,” the minister said the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan remains challenging with the Afghan government facing a number of problems, including an increase in opium production that helps finance the insurgency.
“On our part, Pakistan is making sincere efforts in bringing the Taliban militant group to the negotiations table and supporting the quadrilateral Afghan peace talks but in the end it will be the Afghan government which will lead the process as it must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” he stressed “This is being done to help the Afghan government achieve lasting peace in the country,” he added.
Referring to the threats by the Afghan military hierarchy to carry out ‘hot pursuit’ actions in Pakistani territory, Khawaja Asif said that any such action will not be well received or go unnoticed and will solicit a befitting Pakistan counter response. “In the interest of peace, it is important that both countries resolve their issue peacefully and through mutual consultation. In the regional perspective, it is incumbent upon regional players to adopt a policy of co-existence and resolve disputes through peaceful means or joint bilateral mechanisms,” he said.
The defence minister said that South Asia stands at crossroads in terms of security and stability environment, as the continuous unrest in Afghanistan, growing threat of terrorism and extremism in the region in the shape of ISIS and historical adversarial relations between Pakistan and India have gravely impacted the regional
“Furthermore, exponential increase in military and nuclear capabilities in the neighborhood and their support to non-state actors to create unrest in Pakistan further complicated the country’s challenge to root out the menace of terrorism once for all. The recent arrest of Indian spy agency ‘RAW’ agent Kulbhushan Yadav is a case in
point. Such activities not just complicate country’s national resolve but gives incentives to terrorist organizations to regroup and carry out activities against the state,” he emphasised.
Khawaja Asif pointed that the deterrence stability in South Asia is confronted by a multiple and grievous challenges, ranging from new limited war fighting concepts in the shape of Cold Start Doctrine to acquisition of destabilising technology i.e. Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, nuclearisation of Indian Ocean and massive increase in
India’s conventional defence spending —over $80 billion against Pakistan’s little over $6 billion — have pushed the South Asian region towards perpetual instability, unless and until the relationship is not stabilised through deliberate efforts.
“The idea of Cold Start Doctrine is based upon the notion of pre-emptive strike and calls for rapid deployment of ‘Integrated Battle Groups’. India’s Cold Start Doctrine joint with massive militarisation force has the capability to increase the level of an
arms race, hence raising the level of minimum deterrence stability in the region. However, Pakistan maintains the policy of credible minimum deterrence and full spectrum response as core policy option for stability of the nuclear deterrence in the region,” he said.
The defence minister that these developments in the neighbourhood have compelled Pakistan to increase its reliance on nuclear deterrence and draft ambitious military strategies. “The introduction of NASR, short-range ballistic missile system is one of the key elements of a ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD)’ strategy. The FSD strategy is a response measure against the evolving threats, mainly emanating from neighboring nuclear armed India.”
Khawaja Asif said that in today’s world, the concept of security transcends the traditional concept of border security. “Due to the increase in population in the underdeveloped and developing regions of the world, we witness a more complex form of security paradigms emerging out of national and regional mindsets,” he said. “The world needs to have a new set of socioeconomic and sociocultural values which should not only address the aspirations of the people but also safeguard their rights to benefitting from their resources. The time has come to invest in human capital by adopting a just and
equitable distribution of ever-shrinking global resources. Thus the important factor in ensuring global peace and security is the future role of global powers in the stability equation of the regions of the world, including Middle East and South Asia,” he concluded.
In his keynote speech on the occasion, Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said the security challenges faced by Pakistan from terrorism are real and need to be tackled effectively. He said that Pakistan has hosted over three million Afghan refugees for more than three decades.
“Unfortunately the help rendered by Pakistan has not met with either global support or appreciation for the enormity of the task carried out by Pakistani state, its security apparatus to which I am a part of or the help required in terms of the humanitarian value attached to finding permanent solutions to these large-scale migrations and refugee crises. Let alone in fact even recognizing the Pakistani contribution has been limited,” he regretted.
“The Pakistani society which was once considered to be peaceful and full of harmony is now not only vulnerable to the challenge of full of radical elements but also is facing the onslaught of terrorism,” he added.
The Balochistan home minister said the influx of Afghan refugees in his province over the decades added to drug problem, the illicit trafficking of guns and ingress in the undocumented economy. He said that Pakistan has fulfilled its international responsibilities with a good faith by allowing Afghan refugees to live in serenity in its territory for more than three decades.
“I believe, for Pakistan, now our fundamental priority is the early return of Afghan refugees and their reintegration in Afghanistan, for which we need to work closely with the government of Afghanistan, UNHCR and other relevant players. We together need to build a new future and new humanity for all displaced persons worldwide. This is a prime responsibility of states for now and tomorrow for a better world and a better future,” Bugti stressed.
German Ambassador to Pakistan Ina Lepel said that Pakistan is the largest host of refugees so it raises challenges for the international community. She said there is a debate happening in Europe to either keep them or send them back and to solve this problem cooperation is required along with time and money. She said that certain cooperation and improvement has been seen in many areas regarding Syria. “Due to many problems many refugees are coming to Europe and trying to take advantage of our constitution but they are speeding up the process to deal with the refugees and those who have to come, they have to abide by their laws,” the German ambassador said, concluding that refuge problem is a global problem which requires a global
response in which they are playing an active role.
Hungarian Ambassador Dr. Gyarmati Istvan said the Hungarian government has paid a huge price for refugee crisis but it’s very difficult to convince and cooperate with various member states and now they have to deal with the huge influx of refugees.He also spoke about the past and said that lessons should be drawn from it. He said that rich countries in Europe, the US, Japan and other countries should increase their support for the refugees.
Speaking about the borders in Europe, he said, they are not prepared to deal and defend the borders. He emphasized that a clear distinction between migrants and refugees is need which can be done by improving the current legislation and increasing dialogues between member states.
“These steps are difficult because of the rise of both left and right wing parties. The thrust from these parties can be reduced if both the centre-left and centre-right parties join forces to counter the propaganda against refugees,” he said.
The ambassador also spoke about the politics in Europe saying that the politicians are focused on the next elections and as a result they are using the migrant crisis as a means to gain votes. In the end, we have to look into the essence of the crisis and our community, he said.