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Afghan refugee: living a life of uncertainty 

19 September 2010 10:22:51

Afghan refugee: living a life of uncertainty

Sohail Rashid

The ‘war on terror’ has changed the entire scenario of the world. It has also affected the lives of countless people who had migrated to Pakistan from Afghanistan with their families. As tension is still raging in the war-torn country, these people are frightened to go back and living a life of uncertainty in Pakistan.

Syed Khan is one such refugee who had migrated to Pakistan, along his family, from Baghgan, a town in Herat province of Afghanistan, in 2002. He collects wastepaper from streets of Islamabad, along with his eight-year-old son Shehrzad, and sells it to a dealer in Sector G-11 for recycling. He knows that he is spoiling the future of his little son, but according to him, he has no other option.

“I cannot allow my son to join any school because it is very hard for me to do so in my meagre income,” said Syed Khan. He said that his income is just peanuts even after toiling hard the whole day.

He told this news agency that he has three sons and two daughters and living in a single room for Rs2,000 per month. “After paying the bills of electricity and gas, nothing is left in my pocket,” he said while pointing towards the pocket of his shirt.

Syed Khan is a registered migrant and he always keeps his registration card with him to show in case he is checked by police. He is thankful to Pakistan for providing his family a place to live and giving him permission to work. “I am very grateful to the Pakistan government for helping us in our time of trial,” he said.

When he was asked why he is not going back as the situation in Afghanistan is not as dangerous as it used to be, he said that he is willing to go back to his country but there is still some sort of insurgency in various parts of Afghanistan. I cannot put my family members at risk. “I will not go till complete peace prevails in my country,” he added.

His son Shehrzad is totally unfamiliar with his homeland as he is just 8 and his family has not visited Afghanistan since his birth. “My mother has told me that the lives of children like me are not safe there. So I don’t want to go there,” he said while helping his father in putting wastepaper in a sack.