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En librairie

Transformation de conflit, de Karine Gatelier, Claske Dijkema et Herrick Mouafo

Aux Éditions Charles Léopold Mayer (ECLM)


Fiche d’analyse

Pakistan : Conflict, Migration and Peace

I. Introduction

Studies glorifying wars and conquests abound. Many of these justify ruthless use of power to achieve the desired goals. While promoting warrior culture and whipping up jingoism, these show little interest in the fate of hundreds of thousands of human beings condemned to suffer the consequences.

However, a number of works surfacing since the end of the Second World War call for an alternative approach to study wars and conflicts. Focusing on the horrors of wars and grave consequences of conflicts, several among these argue in favour of abolishing the institution of war, destroying the weapons of mass destruction, diminishing structural violence, preventing the deadly conflicts form taking place and promoting a culture of peace every where. Many of these have been authored by peace scholars and activists. These pioneering, path – breaking, highly creative and well documented works have firmly laid the conceptual, philosophical and normative foundation for alternative global and local governance and security thinking and ask for a common sense approach towards the issues of wars, conflicts and human security, in particular.

As a result it is now being increasingly realized that wars and conflicts affect not only their immediate surroundings, but also distant lands and people. Conflicts, infacts, “have become every one’s business” and “the idea that states and peoples are free to conduct their quarrels - no matter how deadly - is outdated in the nuclear age and in a shrinking world where local hostilities can rapidly become international ones with devastating consequences” (1). Furthermore, instead of concentrating - as was done in the past - primarily on bringing an end to armed conflicts and providing emergency relief to their victims, there is now a greater emphasis on early and peaceful resolution of conflicts and on preventing the deadly conflicts from taking place. In this context, the Carnegie Commission on preventing deadly conflict has taken a significant initiative. It has really gone into the core issue of conflict prevention itself, considerably influenced international discourse on the root causes of deadly conflicts and on strategies to prevent their occurrence and enormously enriched conflict studies.

Like conflict studies, migration studies have also proliferated in the recent years. The number of published works on the dynamics and challenges of both voluntary and forced migration in the post cold war era and especially after 9/11 is continuously on the rise. Likewise, the number of research journals focusing on migration, displacement, human rights, group rights, ethnic conflicts, governance, human trafficking, refugee and humanitarian law has significantly increased. So has increased the frequency and number of international, regional and national conferences, workshops and seminars on migration – related issues in different countries and regions.

However, a major concern of such deliberations has all along been the perceived flow of the uprooted people from developing societies to the developed ones and formulation of strategies by the national security states to beat back such flows and raise walls - legal walls - around themselves to pre-empt such movements. Admittedly, a number of studies on migratory flows do deal with the insecurities and sufferings of the fleeing masses in the 1980s and 1990s and after and provide critical accounts of the extent and limit of international refugee aid and assistance. Nevertheless, a great many focus on constructing rationale in favour of Fortress Europe and introduction of stricter immigration laws in the developed societies (2). Only a few, in fact, very few deliberate upon the root causes of forced migration and fewer still suggest conflict prevention and peace building as a viable strategy to control and contain forced migratory movements.

As a matter of fact, the research deficit especially in this area of migration and peace is rather too glaring. There is clearly a need to initiate a series of empirical studies to examine the linkage between conflict and sudden and disorderly migration and highlight the importance of peace for organized, documented and universally acceptable migrations.

This paper on conflict, migration and peace in the context of Pakistan’s experience in forced migration is a study in this direction. Though it does’nt claim to offer an in – depth theoretical and conceptual inquiry into the linkage between migration and peace (3), this is the central idea of this paper which primarily focuses on three specific migratory situations / categories.

These are :

  • 1) Partition of India and partition refugees in Pakistan ;

  • 2) Bangladesh crisis of 1971, exodus of the Bengalis and the fate of stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh ;

  • 3) Afghan crisis and Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

II. The Partition Refugees

Among these, the migration that took place in the wake of communal riots and partition of British India into independent states of India and Pakistan – on 14–15 August 1947 – was sudden, swift, and on a mass scale. Described as « genocidal partition » (4), the partition was one of the most traumatizing, violent and daunting events of human history “which not only tore a human population into two and now three distinct political entities, but also tore many human lives into halves” (5). The division of Bengal and specially Punjab resulted in mob violence and mass–killing. According to an estimate, approximately 1.3 million were killed and about 15 million were forcibly displaced. Among the displaced, approximately “8 million Hindus and Sikhs were forced to leave their home in Pakistan and migrate to India and nearly seven million Muslims were uprooted from their homes in India and forced to migrate to Pakistan” (6).

The refugees who came to Pakistan came from almost every part of India, including United Province (UP), Central Province (CP), Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, East Punjab, Maharashtra and the former princely states of Hyderabad, Deccan, Junagarh and Kashmir. Hundreds of thousands of these partition refugees came on foot or on bull carts or by jeeps, trucks, buses and trains. On the way, they were attacked by the Hindu and Sikh armed communal gangs and many were mercilessly butchered. The migrating women and children were abducted and raped and often murdered. Likewise, the Hindus and Sikhs migrating from Pakistan were attacked and butchered by the Muslim armed gangs. In fact, hell was let loose on both sides of the divide on the eve of partition and after.

But post–1947 academic history of the subcontinent rarely, if ever, focused on human dimension of partition violence and forced migration. “For many years”, observes Ian Talbot in his remarkable introduction to the volume on Lahore 1947 edited by Ahmad Salim, ”Indian Pakistani nationalist historical discourses reduced partition to a mere footnote as they dwelt on the triumph of independence rather than its costs”. He adds : “The field was thus left open for communalist writings which for their own purposes emphasised violence, always with the aim to attribute blame to the “other” party. It was in fact not until almost the Golden Jubilee of Independence that historians began to construct a historical discourse on partition “from beneath” (7).

Subsequently, a number of important studies were published in India and Pakistan. These focused on partition violence and partition victims, carried the narratives of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh victims, analyzed the literary master pieces of the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim poets, story writers and novelists on partition – related themes, offered accounts of the aid and assistance provided by the members of one religious community to those of the other community and brought into sharp focus the tragedies of the partition.

By any count or criterion, the change that was brought about by partition in the political, cultural, social economic and religious landscape of the subcontinent was colossal. Millions and millions of the inhabitants suddenly discovered to their horror that they were stripped of their historical, geographical and cultural identity. The only identity that mattered during partitions violence and after was religious. The Muslims who had lived for generations in the Hindu dominated villages, town and cities in West Punjab, U.P., Bihar and other places in undivided India suddenly realized that nothing belonged to them. The villages, the towns and the cities in which they had lived for centuries were no more theirs, they were aliens, foreigners in their own homes and home towns and if they did’nt run for their life immediately, they would be attacked by the armed Hindu and Sikh gangs and brutally killed. The Hindus and Sikhs living for decades / centuries in areas now comprising Pakistan suffered the similar feeling of dispossession and pangs of disinheritance. They also realized that they would be lynched into pieces if they did not leave their ancestral homes soon enough. Thus there commenced one of the greatest migrations in human history.

In only three months, between August and October 1947, the entire Punjab was seized by a communal civil war involving whole sale ethnic – cleansing campaigns (8). Arson, loot, plunder, abduction, killing and rape forced the Hindus, Muslims and Sikh to leave their ancestral homes and seek refuge across the bloody borders. Many died on their way to security, many more were abducted and many were killed. Trains with dead bodies ran from Pakistani Punjab to Indian Punjab and vice versa.

Born in 1911 at the headworks of Balloki Dam on the river Ravi in Pakistani Punjab and educated at Government College, Lahore, Prakash Tandon (9) gives an account of the bloody partition times :

“One day, a train crammed with two thousand refugees came from the more predominantly Muslim areas of Jhelum and beyond. At Gujrat station the train was stopped, and Muslims from the neighborhood excited by the news of violence in East Punjab, began to attack and loot. There was indescribable carnage. Several hours later the train moved on, filled with a bloody mess of corpses, without a soul alive. At Amritsar, when the train with its load of dead arrived, they took revenge on a trainload of Muslim refugees. There was also great killing at Sheikhupura, and on the other side in Jullandhur. The whole Punjab was in conflagration. Six million Hindus and Sikhs from the West Punjab began to move in one dense mass towards safety, and from the east of the border a similar mass movement was under way in the opposite direction”. (10)

However, this partition – induced migration was avoidable as partition itself was not unavoidable. If the two dominant communities – Hindus and Muslims – of undivided India had agreed to live together, live in peace and jointly develop post – colonial Indian society, the bloody partition and migration could have been avoided. They had lived together for centuries, had often picked up quarrels against one another and often also enjoyed enjoyful periods of togetherness and mutually beneficial cooperation and collaboration. During their armed struggle for liberation in 1857 against the common foe - the British colonial power - the Hindus and the Muslims had jointly and valiantly fought against the British and laid down their lives for the freedom of mother India. But the post – 1857 era witnessed the frequent eruption of mistrust, opening up of the old wounds and surfacing of the new ones, rapid estrangement of relationship, viewing things from communal perspective and walking in the trap so cleverly laid by the colonial power. Clearly the role played by certain Muslim sections of India in ensuring that the British policy of divide and role does not fail was important, but the overall attitude of the dominant, majority community - the Hindus - towards the Muslims was hardly reassuring. What after the British was the question hanging like the sword of Damocles over the heads of Muslim Indians and drove them towards communal ghettoes. A deeper understanding of the currents and cross currents of Indian politics by the Indian National Congress in particular, an appreciation of the genuine grievances of the Muslims and an exhibition of a little bit of magnanimity by the Congress leadership could have diminished the collective insecurities of Indian Muslims. But this was not to be so. Kamlabehan Patel, an Indian social worker, who was actively involved in recovering abducted Hindu and Sikh women from Pakistani Punjab, laments :

“You see, the Hindus never did accept the Muslims because if they had, these things would have been avoided. It they had looked upon them as one does on a younger or older brother, then they would not have developed this complex. Even the common people treated them like untouchables, never let them get close. Look, I am a Gujrati. Among us there was not much warmth for them. In Gujrat, there were no Muslim Zamindars or highly educated people, only farmers or artisans. They could not equal either the money or education of the Muslims of the Punjab or U.P. At the time of partition, when I went to Punjab for the first time, I realized that there was a lot of socializing and warmth among the two communities. They used to embrace each other and when they were forced to separate, they longed to see each other again. If they were together alone, they would embrace, but in public they would shout slogans against each other”. (11)

One may recall here that the two communities did come very close to accepting the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 and almost agreeing to live together in the united Indian federation with the Muslim majority areas enjoying greater autonomy, but the demand for partition finally prevailed.

Indeed, the partition itself and the subsequent migration are the result of the failure of the two communities – led by All India National Congress under the leadership of Mahatama Gandhi and Pundit Jawaherlal Nehru, and All India Muslim League under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah – to respond creatively and nonviolently to the challenges of communal disharmony and resolve the conflict through peaceful means. Again, even if the partition was inevitable, it could have been peaceful and might not have triggered such a mass scale migration of people. More tragically, the expectation that the two warring communities – Hindus and Muslims, who could not live together in peace during the undivided India days, would now live in peace and in a spirit of good neighbourly relations in the post – partition era remained unfulfilled.

Worse still, the partition wounds could’nt be healed quickly. Bleeding continued for decades and the two states – India and Pakistan – failed to build – up a regime of peace and harmony in South Asia. They remained fettered to various kinds of conflicts and even after fifty nine years of independence, militarism, nuclearism and jingoism remain the defining features of Ind – o – Pak relations. During this period they fought three bloody wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971, got into the quagmire of conflicts in Kashmir, Siachen Glacier and Kargil and induced several waves of migration.

III. The Kashmir Issue

The Kashmir conflict, in particular, remains a great human tragedy and a major cause of migration instigator in many ways. The conflict, one may note, began with the partition in 1947, when the Hindu ruler of the Muslim majority princely state opted to accede to India as armed tribesmen from Pakistan advanced towards the state capital Srinagar. Covering an area of 86,023 sq. miles or about the size of the Korean peninsula, Kansas or Great Britain, Kashmir subsequently got divided into two parts : Azad (Free) Kashmir and the adjacent Northern Areas (32,358 sq. miles) going to Pakistan and the two – thirds of the former princely state (53,665 sq. miles) going under the control of India. Soon after the war in 1948, India and Pakistan signed the Karachi Agreement in July 1949 and established the ceasefire line (CFL) in Kashmir. A modest number of UN observers supervised the CFL.

However, despite the efforts of several international organizations including the United Nations, Commonwealth and Non – Aligned Movement and despite the persuasion of different powers including USA, Great Britain and Japan for peaceful resolution, the conflict went on escalating and eventually led to two more bloody wars in 1965 and 1971. The war of 1971 resulting in the military defeat and surrender of Pakistan in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and some territorial loss in West Pakistan (present day Pakistan) did bring the two warring states to the negociation table and the Simla Agreement was reached between the two in July 1972. The Simla Agreement “defined a Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir which, with minor deviation, followed the same path as the Karachi Agreement’s CFL”. It also called upon both the states to respect the LOC “without prejudice to the recognized position of either side”. Though no majow war has taken place since 1971, the strategic environment of Ind – o – Pakistan subcontinent has continued to remain poisoned because of lack of trust, bloody arms race, frequent war threats, offensive military postures at the borders, allegations and counter – allegations regarding intervention in the internal affairs of the countries, armed clashes over Siachen and Kargil, and until recently, almost unceasing exchange of fire between the two militaries, specially at the LOC and nuclearisation of the conflict.

In April 1984, one may point out, the Indian military clandestinely moved into certain parts of the Siachen Glacier and since then, the Indian and Pakistani troops have confronted each other, eye ball to eye ball, for the control of 76 kilometers long Glacier and its approaches in the eastern Karakoram mountain range, adjacent to the borders of India, Pakistan and China. It may be added here that this is the longest – running armed conflict between regular armies since the advent of the 20th century.

About 15 years after the Indian military adventure in Siachen, Pakistan retaliated by surreptitiously deploying troops and irregular forces in May 1999 on the Indian side of the LOC above Kargil. Exactly a year before Kargil, in the month of May 1998, both India and Pakistan had exploded their atomic devices and sent a clear message to the whole world that Kashmir was now a nuclear flash point.

Meanwhile, there had already begun in the year 1989 what India calls an insurgency and Pakistan a liberation struggle or intifada in the Indian – held Kashmir. Bomb blasts, targeted killings, attacks on military and police institutions and on the worship places of the Hindus and Sikhs, followed by frequent calls for strike and mass demonstrations, virtually paralyzed the state and destroyed its economy. India alleged that the insurgency was planned, guided, fuelled and militarily supported by Pakistan and responded to the challenge by virtually converting the state of Jammu and Kashmir into a garrison state. New Delhi also went for very heavy military and parliamentary deployments at the Ind-o-Pakistan borders and frequently expressed its determination to stem the tide through all possible means at its command. Pakistan, on its part, condemned India for its repressive rule in Kashmir and asserted that the uprising in the state was indigenous and that’s all.

At the same time and specially after 9/11, Pakistan publicly stated that it would try its best to discourage the militants’ crossing of the LOC from Pakistan side. India called it public relation exercise and often threatened that it retained the right of hot pursuit and pre-emptive strike to deal with this cross-border terrorism. True enough that the threat of pre – emptive Indian attack somewhat receded after former Indian Prime Minister Atal Vehari Vajpayee’s offer of friendship extended on 18th April 2003 and subsequent developments like the exchange of Ambassadors to each country, resumption of the bus service between Lahore and Delhi, observance of ceasefire on LOC, visits of politicians, parliamentarians, judges, media and film stars, sports teams and peace activists to India and Pakistan, conclusion of the 12th SAARC summit in January 2004 in a very friendly environment, introduction of bus service between Sri Nagar in Indian held Kashmir and Muzaffarabad in Pakistani held Kashmir and introduction of train service between Sindh and Rajasthan sector.

But then exploded a number of bombs in the Mumbai trains on 2006 and killed people. India pointed its accusing finger toward Pakistan and then the relations deteriorated. The peace wind stopped blowing for a while, but relationship some what improved after a meeting between India Prime Minister Man Mohan Sindh and Pakistani President General Pervaiz Musharraf at however, given the uncertainty in the peace process, a number of questions need to be asked. These, in brief, are : For how long the guns would remain silent? ; Aren’t the conflicts still there?; Wouldn’t these conflicts ignite another war and cause a new wave of human displacement on both sides of the divide? These questions on dispute and displacement in the context of India – Pakistan relations are important and relate to a human tragedy which – until recently – had received very little attention by research and studies on forced migration.

IV. The Kashmiri Diaspora

Indeed, the Kashmiri diaspora is very closely linked to conflict over Kashmir. Whatever be the causes of the wars and where ever be the major battle grounds, every war fought between India and Pakistan has caused displacement of the people, specially that of the Kashmiris. In fact, even when a major war was not being fought, a brief encounter over Siachen or Kargil, the continuing low intensity conflict over Kashmir, exchange of fire across the borders and the propaganda wars have caused displacement of the Kashmiris.

As a matter of fact, ever since the partition carnage, the Kashmiris are on the move, the Hindu Kashmiris migrating to India and Muslims to Pakistan and many Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris moving out of India and Pakistan and settling down in Western Europe, U.S.A and Canada. During the first phase of migration out of the subcontinent from 1948 to the end of 1960s, Britain was the favourite destination after temporary stay in India or Pakistan. Those were the good old days for the immigrants. Facing acute shortage of labour in the post – war reconstruction programme, Britain pursued an “open door” policy on immigrations, especially from its former colonies. The circumstances suited the uprooted Kashmiris who had just migrated to Pakistan and had little stakes, if at all, in the host country. Hence, the movement of the Kashmiris toward Britain after the partition and particularly after war soon after partition and Kashmir’s accession to India. The second Ind-o-Pakistan war took place in September 1965. This war caused the displacement of nearly 500,000 people form Indian Kashmir’s border districts of Rajouri and Punch. They moved into Pakistan.

The second phase of Kashmiri migration out of India and Pakistan took place during 1972 – 90. By the end of 1960s, the Kashmiris in Britain/Europe were somewhat settled in jobs and business and their children were attending the Western educational and training institutions. Again, those settled in Pakistan had also got well adjusted. They were doing good in job, business and also in politics. They had built – up houses in Pakistan and looked forward to their future in Pakistan with considerable degree of confidence. But then came Pakistan’s military action in former East Pakistan, war with India and Pakistan’s dismemberment, all in the year 1971. While the military defeat of Pakistan in Bangladesh and its disintegration critically demoralized the Pakistan military and considerably emboldened separatist movements in Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, in particular, the events also eroded the confidence of people in the future of remaining Pakistan as a viable state. The defeat had also shaken the confidence of the Kashmiris who had hoped that Pakistan would somehow help, assist and lead their freedom struggle against Indian occupation. Such an expectation now seemed too unrealistic.

Furthermore, the fear escalated that another war with India would take place any way and this would prompt Pakistan to avenge its defeat. But it could also mean the end of Pakistan. Again, post – 1971 political instability, rise of ethnic conflict in Sindh, conomic chaos due to nationalization of major industries and widespread labour and worker unrest further convinced the Kashmiris that they shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket. Such was the time when a silver lining appeared on the dark horizon. The oil producing and exporting Middle Eastern and Gulf countries suddenly became very rich because of oil price increases and desired rapid modernization. As such, countries like United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Saudi Arabia opened their gates for architects, engineers, teachers, doctors, managerial staff and skilled and semi-skilled workers from abroad and specially from Pakistan. Many Kashmiris, like other Pakistanis, were thus allured away by the liquid gold of Arabia. Some among them even gazed beyond Arabian horizon and later managed to make moves to settle down in the United States and Canada. They are now well – settled and many of their children have acquired good education and good degrees from Europe and North America and are doing good in jobs/business in either continent or in both.

Since 1989–90, the third Kashmiri wave of migration has begun. Being utterly frustrated because of the protracting Kashmiri conflict, because of violence and repression in Indian Kashmir and because of the failure of Pakistan to attain any substantial political and military gains for the Kashmiris and because of the ever spreading ethnic, sectarian and political violence in Pakistan itself, the Kashmiri Muslims coming from Indian Kashmir and those who had moved to Pakistan in 1947 or after felt compelled to move out of Pakistan. They desperately tried to benefit form Kashmiri connections in Europe, North America, Gulf and the Middle East in order to eventually move to the developed West – the final destination (12).

It is clear that if India and Pakistan had resolved to promote peace, co-operation and trust, if military solution of the Kashmir conflict was not resorted to in 1947-48 and after, if India had granted the right of self-determination to the Kashmiris, if Pakistan had emerged as a dynamic, progressive, modernistic, democratic and pluralistic society and if both India and Pakistan had taken the deliberate decision to promote peace at home and abroad, the Ind-o-Pak ties would have been peaceful and mutually beneficial and a great many Pakistanis and Kashmiris could have been happier in Pakistan and Kashmir and their desperation for migration might have been much less.

V. Bangladesh Crisis

Likewise, a creative, democratic and peaceful approach toward state-federation relations/conflicts might have averted the bloodshed in former East Pakistan and the subsequent forced migration of Bangalis in the year 1971. One may recall here that when Pakistan was created on 14 august 1947, it consisted of East and West Pakistan. These were the two parts of the state separated by over a thousand mile of Indian territory. The common religion Islam, bitter memories of the colonial exploitation of both the wings by the same colonial lord - Great Britain -, fear of Hindu domination in undivided India and the dream of shaping their destinies by themselves brought these two Muslim majority territories together. However, the newly created state failed to nourish and nurture and consolidate the nationhood in the two wings separated not only by geography but also by language, political culture and varying degrees of political awareness. With its capital in Karachi and later in Islamabad near the garrison city of Rawalpindi and concentration of military, industrial, bureaucratic and financial power in West Pakistan, the western wing emerged as the bastion of all power. Worse still, political, economic and military leadership based in West Pakistan promoted non-democratic political culture, strengthened authoritarian governance and virtually institutionalized the political and economic manipulation of the eastern wing (13).

As a result, resistance against Islamabad and its style of governance increased in the former East Pakistan and it developed into a stormy political movement for greater autonomy soon after the 1965 war with India. The Awami League party, based in East Pakistan and championing the cause of greater autonomy for the Bangalis under the fearless leadership of Shaikh Mujibur Rehman, became immensely popular in East Pakistan when it called for radical changes in the constitution and for equitable power – and resource- distribution favouring the majority province of East Pakistan.

Small wonder that the Awami Leagu won 160 out of 300 general seats in the first ever general elections held in Pakistan in December 1970. The number further increased to 167 when thirteen seat reserved for women were also filled in. Now the Awami League had 167 out of 169 seats allocated to the eastern wing. It gave the party a clear-cut majority in Pakistan’s parliament of 313 members. In this general elections for 300 general seats, the next in line was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s Peoples Party which had won 81 seats - almost half of what Awami League had won - 160 seats. But power was not to be handed over to the majority party and the West Pakistani military generals, senior bureaucrats, industrialists, feudal lords, political leaders, hawkish intellectuals and warrior journalists ganged up and threatened the Awami League leadership to opt for massive political compromises or else.

When the Awami League refused to budge in, the military action began. In fact, hell was let loose at midnight on 25 March 1971. In the name of safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country and branding Sheikhj Mujibur Rehman a traitor and his party - the Awaami League - a party working for the separation of the eastern wing, the Bengalis were targeted by tanks, bazookas and automatic rifles for several months. The main target were the Bengali military men of East Bengal Regiment, East Pakistan Rifles, police and paramilitary Ansars and Mujahids, Hindu Bengalis, office bearers and volunteers of Awami League, college and university students and Bengali intellectuals. The grisly military action in the length and breadth of eastern wing caused massive flight of the Bengalis across the borders. According to an estimate, about 17,000 Bengalis entered India every day during 26 – 31 March 1971. The number increased to 40,000 per day in April. By August, a total number of 8 million had taken shelter in India and by December, the number rose to 9.9 million (14).

While most of them returned after the military defeat and surrender of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh as an independent sovereign state on 16 December 1971, several hundred thousand remained in the neighbouring Indian states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura triggering conflict between the locals and the new settlers in these states (15).

If Pakistan had been governed on democratic lines, if the constitution had remained supreme, if institutions like parliament, judiciary, media, and civil society were empowered, if the Pakistan military leadership had remained professional and served the civilian governments with sincerity, loyalty and dedication, if conflict resolution through peaceful means was preferred, if East Pakistan was given its due share in military and civilian governance and if a deliberate policy of equitable and adequate power – and resource – sharing between and among the provinces of Pakistan was adopted, the conflicts between the then East and West Pakistan could have been resolved peacefully, amicably and democratically. Then the massacres and subsequent massive exodus of the Bengalis to India could have been avoided and the issue of Biharis in Bangladesh and that of Bangladeshis in post - 1971 Pakistan might not have arisen.

VI. Bhiaris In Bangaldesh

The Biharis, one may point out, are victims of two partitions : partition of India in 1947 into India and Pakistan and partition of Pakistan into Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1971.The tragedy dates back to 1946, when thousands of Muslims were massacred by organised pogram in the Indian state of Bihar and many thousands had to leave for shelter in the neighbouring state of Bengali. Many among these and others from Bihar migrated to East Pakistan in 1947 and after. These were the people speaking Urdu, a language which became the national language of Pakistan and which was later projected by the leaders of linguistic movement for Bengalis’ right in the former East Pakistan as a symbol of West Pakistani authoritarianism and sub-colonialism. Worse still, the West Pakistani power elites used this small Bihari community concentrated mainly in the cities of Dhaka, Saidpur, Rangpur and Chittagong (in East Pakistan) against the popular movement for Bengali national aspirations and fuelled conflicts between the two communities. On its part, the Biharis’ also did not strive seriously for integration and assimilation, supported Islamabad enthusiastically and most of them helped and assisted the Pakistani military during its action in 1971 against the Bengalis. Many Biharis believed that it was their patriotic duty to help the military in its action against the Bengalis. But then came the surrender of the Pakistani military on 16 December 1971 and there began the persecution of the Biharis by the victorious and angry Bangladeshi forces and people. Their massacre followed and the surviving Biharis got ghettoized in certain locations. However the worse was yet to come and it came soon after 16 December 1971. The surrendering Pakistan Army and later the subsequent Pakistani governments abandoned them in a limbo.

When Bangladesh became independent, it offered two options to the Biharis : stay back as its national or opt for repatriation to Pakistan. Some 5,29,669 Biharis expressed their desire to go to Pakistan. In accordance with the tripartite agreement reached between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Pakistan accepted 1,26,941 Pakistani nationals. 27,000 reached Pakistan as civilian prisoners of war from India between 1973 and 1983, most of them arrived Pakistan between 1973–74. In 1976, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister claimed that 4,75,502 Biharis were still residing in Bangladesh (16). Among them, about 18,000 were reportedly repatriated to Pakistan in 1979. A further 9000 were repatriated in 1982 and 325 in 1993. Since then the process has virtually stopped.

Those strandered in Bangadesh have remained in sub-human conditions in 66 camps scattered across Dhaka, Chittagong, Saidpur, Rangpur, Khulna and other districts. There are those in the camps who are there since 1972 waiting to be repatriated to Pakistan. Many keep the Pakistani flags hoisted and solemnly observe the independence day of Pakistan on 14 August every year. Many were born in the camps, but almost all the inhabitants suffer because of lack of water, sanitation facilities, community care and education. Commenting on the living condition of the Biharis in the camps and outside, Sultana Nahar, an Advocate of Bangladesh’s Supreme Court, observes :

“Most of the Biharis including those living outside the camps are passing their days in agony and anger. There is abject poverty, disease and deprivation. There is no facility for health care, sanitation and education. The dingy houses inside the camps are breeding ground of disease. The young ones remain uneducated and unemployed and are tempted to take to crimes easily. A sizeable number of old people have turned to begging and some to rickshaw pulling. Young girls have been forced to take prostitution for living. The old and the new born – babies are dying for lack of medical care. The anti – social elements from the Bengali community have found the camps as safe haven whenever they are pursued by the members of the law enforcing agencies. The wretched Biharis are now abandoned by all”. (17)

These are the stranded Pakistanis whom Pakistan does not want to accept. Clearly their virtual statelessness has its root in Pakistan’s failure to resolve peacefully the conflicts between East and West Pakistan and integrate these Biharis with the Bengali population in former East Pakistan. Again their continued uprootedness and statelessness is because of Pakistan’s policy of dispossession, a policy which cannot ensure a good image of the country abroad.

Pakistan’s failure to peacefully resolve the conflicts between East and West Pakistan also resulted in the uprootedness and sufferings of both the migrating Bengalis who left Pakistan after 1971and those who opted to stay on in Pakistan. Over the years since 1947, thousands and thousands of Bengali families had settled down in Karachi, Lahore and other places in former West Pakistan. They had purchased properties. Marriages with non-Bengali Pakistanis were solemnized. There were children born and brought up in Pakistan and there were those actively involved in Jobs or business. There never occurred any anti-Bengali riot anywhere in West Pakistan. But things changed rapidly with the military action in East Pakistan in 1971. Life for the Bengali community living in Pakistan became too stressful. Their loyalty to the country was doubted and their distinct characteristics as an ethnic and linguistic community were subject to ridicule. After the creation of Bangladesh, these Bengalis instantly became displaced, became foreigners in what was for so many years their own homeland. As a matter of fact, the community was almost converted into a sort of hostage population for use in the bargain for the return of Pakistani soldiers and civilians who had become prisoners of war in India. Again, the eventual repatriation of these Bengalis to Bangladesh did not take place in the most congenial circumstances and the returnees had to struggle for years to get well settled in their new country.

Those who did not return remained in Pakistan and looked toward it for protection, livelihood and identity. It was not easy for these Bengalis to settle down in a country whose pride was shattered by the fellow Bengalis working in concert with the Indians for the break-up of Pakistan. Again, most of the influential Bengalis, those who mattered in Pakistani politics, bureaucracy, business and finance had left and those who remained behind had to rely on themselves and their God .They gradually detached themselves from politics and concentrated on their work and on ways and means to eventually migrate out of Pakistan and reach the Gulf and beyond. For many of them, Pakistan virtually became a transit country.

The reputation of Pakistan as financially attractive work place and as a transit state attracted many more Bangladeshis who had found it very difficult to get along with their life in the war – torn Bangladesh and thousands of them sneaked into Pakistan through various routes via India. Many of them finally succeeded in obtaining Pakistani identity cards and passports and leaving for the Gulf and beyond. This also paved the way for the mushrooming of many groups of Bengali traffickers who organized the trafficking of Bangladeshi men, women and children into Pakistan and later the trafficking of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Afghans into the Gulf, Middle East, West Asia and Europe. As a matter of fact, desperation for migration at any cost triggered human trafficking from Bangladesh and Pakistan (18).

VII. The Afghan Exodus

Besides the partition of India in 1947 and that of Pakistan in 1971, the upheavals in the neighbouring Afghanistan since late 1970s is equally important for the study of conflict – induced displacement affecting Pakistan. Afghanistan, one may point out, is a landlocked country surrounded by the former Central Asian Republics of Soviet Union (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan) in the North West, China in the East and North East, Iran in the West and Pakistan in the East and South. With Pakistan, it has the longest border, stretching for about 1500 miles. There are about 200 passes along this long mountainous border, enabling the people on both the sides to move freely from one end to the other. Though restricted to a considerable extent after 9/11 and American war on terrorism, this free movement of the people especially from North West Frontier province in Pakistan to South East Afghanistan and from Afghanistan to Pakistan has a long history of its own.

Indeed, the history of extended family and tribal relations specially between south east Afghanistan and north- west Pakistan is fairly long, peaceful and cordial. For 2000 years, the Pathan tribesmen have been migrating back and forth across the Pak-Afghan border. Even the of and on strained relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1947 onward did not critically affect the movement of the people. Very often the dissidents, political activists and even criminals crosses borders in search of shelter and protection. For instance, in the 1960s, a number of Afghans had fled from Afghanistan and taken refuge in Pakistan. Again, about 1,500 political dissidents crossed into Pakistan when Sardar Muhammed Daud Khan, Afghan King Zahir Shah’s first cousin and brother-in-law and Afghanistan’s Prime Minister from 1953 to 1963, seized power, abolished monarchy and declared Afghanistan a republic in 1973. And when a group of urban intellectuals led by Noor Muhammed Taraki captured power in April 1978, the Afghans began fleeing to neighbouring Pakistan and Iran, but their number was still quite small. By August 1978, only 3,000 had sought shelter in Pakistan. Within a year, however, the number swelled to 109,000.During the period between September and December 1979, when Hafizullah Amin ruled over Afghanistan after removing Taraki, the figure soared upto 386,916. But a mass exodus really began when Amin was removed from power on 28 December 1979 and when the Soviet troops entered Kabul. The influx rose to over 10,000 a month in the first three months, followed soon, during 1980, with the staggering figure of 80 to 90 thousand a month. By December 1983, the number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan was 3 million. According to a paper issued by the Government of Pakistan, the figure rose to 3,670,364 by 15 February 1990 (19).

Soon after there began the reverse migration after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and end of the cold war. In fact, massive returns occurred in 1992–93 and 2002–2003. Two major political developments in Afghanistan prompted these returns :

  • First, the stepping down of president Najibullah and seizure of power by the Afghan resistance forces.

  • Second, the American military action in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Taliban government in Kabul in late 2001. On both the occasions, expectations for the return of normalcy and peace to a country comprehensively destroyed by war and internal conflicts were raised and hopes for rapid and sustained post – war reconstruction and building up of the war – torn Afghanistan, peaked. However, the hopes for better tomorrows turned into disillusionment when the returning Afghan refugees discovered that their country was still trapped in violence, bloody conflicts, political instability, corruption, misgovernance and terrorism and many decided to once again wander in the refugee wilderness (20). Thus, many returned to Pakistan, once again, but by this time, Pakistan itself had changed a lot for them.

During the 1980s, when the Soviets were still firmly at the helm of affairs in Afghanistan, Pakistan had run with open arms towards the refuge seekers from Afghanistan. They were not viewed as « others », « strangers at the door », « criminals », « trouble makers », « burden on economy », « aliens », « foreigners » or as « security risk ». They were warmly received as fellow Muslims coming from a brotherly Muslim state with which Pakistan has historical, cultural, political, religious and economic ties. Issuing a series of policy statements garbed in the language of Islamic romanticism, the military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, who had seized power on 5 July 1977, declared on several occasions that Pakistan as Islamic state was duty bound to extend all possible humanitarian help and assistance to the arriving Afghans. During early 1980s, Islamabad made no attempt to contain, control or reverse the inflows. On the contrary and unlike most other refugee receiving states elsewhere, the Pakistani state in the 1980s was a kind of a state that was virtually alluring, tempting, welcoming the refugees and asserting that its response was a sort of whole-sale humanitarian actionism. But that was in the 1980s.

The world totally changed for the Afghan refugees in the 1990s and especially by end–1990s. The change, one may point out here, did not occasion after 9/11. Much before 9/11 and soon after the Soviet disintegration heralding the end of the cold war, global interest, particularly US interest, in Afghan conflict and assistance to the Afghans diminished and the donor world grew less and less enthusiastic about assistance to them. Even Pakistan became lukewarm towards them and wished the remaining Afghans go back at the earliest. Islamabad, moreover, took rather harsh measures to discourage the incoming Afghans and in November 2000, it officially closed its border with Afghanistan. In January 2001, the Governor of North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and thereafter the federal government, issued public orders empowering the police to detain and deport the arriving Afghans in the NWFP and those staying in Pakistan without valid documents. Between October 2000 and May 2001, the government reportedly forcibly returned some 7,633 Afghans and the Pakistani media and government officials began projecting the Afghans as outsiders, security risk, burden on economy and as a sort of people responsible for the brutalization and criminalization of Pakistani society. Consequently, repatriation process was accelerated and preventive measures were taken to discourage and beat back the coming or intending waves of the Afghans from across the Pak - Afghan border (21). These Afghans became victims of politics of dispossession. There was little concern for them in Pakistan or elsewhere and little eagerness to look at the issue in the background of the lingering Afghan tragedy.

VIII. The Afghan Tragedy

Over the years since the Saur Revolution of April 1978 and specially since the Soviet military intervention in December 1979, the whole Afghan nation was systematically destroyed and millions of Afghan men, women, and children were condemned to live in wilderness as internally displaced persons (IDPs) or as refugees. Clearly many actors and interest groups are responsible for this Afghan tragedy. Among them, can be mentioned the Afghan monarchy and post-monarchy political leadership, feuding Afghan war lords, Pakistan, USA, Soviet Union and Saudia Arabia, in particular.

To begin with, the history of Afghanistan is full of stories of wars and invasions during different historical periods. Most of these conflicts, took place because of either foreign invasions or because of certain Afghan leaders’ desire to stay in power at all costs. Place intrigues and ferocious struggle for power and throne are the distinguishing feature of Afghan history. It was in the year 1774, when the first unified Afghan state was established by Ahmed Khan Durrani and the tradition of succession through violence was very faithfully continued. Worse still, the country suffered foreign interventions for centuries.

Afghanistan, for example, was occupied by the British in the 19th century and almost for a century, the Afghan people fought against the British. In August 1919, it achieved full political independence from the British. During 1919-29, King Amanullah ruled over the country, but he was forced to abdicate in January 1929 when Kabul fell to forces led by Bacha-i-Saqao, a Tajik brigand. But, Bacha-i-Saqao was defeated by Prince Nadir Khan, a cousin of Amanullah in October same year. Nadir declared himself King of Afghanistan. However, only four years later, he was assassinated. Then came the long reign and rule of King Mohammed Zahir Shah, Nadir Khan’s 19 year old son. Zahir reigned from 1933 to 1973.On 17July 1973, Zahir’s government was toppled by Sardar Muhammed Daoud. Daoud himself was removed from power on 27 April 1978, when Noor Muhammed Taraki staged a bloody coup. Daoud and most of his family members were killed. But only a year later, in September 1979, Hafizullah Amin who was earlier Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in Taraki’s cabinet seized power from Taraki after a palace shoot out. Taraki was killed. But then the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in late December 1979 and Amin was killed. Then Babrak Karmal, an exiled leftist leader staying in Czechoslovakia, was called back and installed in power as new Prime Minister of Afghanistan. Soon began the armed and organized resistance movement of the Islamic fighters—the Mujahideens. They were fully supported by the CIA and US government, Pakistan military and Pakistan government and the Saudi rulers. In May 1986, Karmal was removed and replaced by Muhammed Najibullah, former chief of the Afghan secret police, KHAD. By 1992, the Afghan resistance forces captured Kabul and removed Najibullah from power.

What followed was a fierce and bloody struggle among the Afghan warlords for rule over Kabul, a struggle abruptly brought to an end by the capture of the city of Kandhar in 1994 and the capture of Kabul in 1996 by the Taliban. Mostly educated at the religious schools in Pakistan and belonging to rural Pashtun background, the Taliban under the leadership of Mullah Omar, sought to impose an extreme interpretation of Islam, committed massive human rights violations, brutally dealt with the minority populations and provided sanctuary to Usama Bin Laden, a Saudi national who had fought with the Afghans against the Soviets, and provided a base for his and other terrorist organizations. The Taliban government collapsed as a result of American military action in October 2001, less than a month after 9/11. And now on the seat of power is the former Afghan refugee in Pakistan, Hamid Karzai, in power mainly because of the patronage of the United States, and attempts are claimed to be afoot to put Afghanistan on democratic, constitutional tracks.

One may add here that the Afghan rulers and specially king Zahir Shah, who reigned and ruled with full authority for forty years (1933 to 1973), were mostly concerned in consolidating their own authority and had little concern to strengthen the institutions of governance in Afghanistan. They had little respect for constitutional and democratic governance and did little to bring Afghanistan out of its decadent and primitive tribal hold. Again, instead of promoting inter-tribal harmony and co-operation, they thrived on tribal rivalries and enmities. Likewise, the progressive leadership that came to power in 1978 got bogged down because of internal feuds and the Afghan war lords wasted the opportunity of introducing good governance after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan. They opted to fight against one another and fought terribly bloody uncivil wars. When the Taliban came to power, they got carried away by their myopic vision of governance and let loose a reign of terror in the name of Islam in the length and breadth of Afghanistan.

It is rather too early to speculate upon the future of Post-Taliban, American guided and tutored Afghanistan. What, however, is obvious is the fact that the Afghan tragedy could have been avoided/prevented if governance based on power - and resource - sharing, respect for human rights for all, multiculturalism in a multi-ethnic society, democratic principles, participatory politics and modernistic party system was allowed to take root and flourish. Then the Afghan people could be saved from the war of destruction and political and ethnic violence.

Likewise, the forced migration of the Afghans could have been controlled and restrained if the major international actors had worked to serve the cause of peace in Afghanistan and in the region rather than to serve their own petty power political interests. But this was not to be. The Afghan crisis was viewed as an opportunity by the United States to avenge the Vietnam disaster and to push the Soviet Union into its own Vietnam. The US came rushing not to end the conflict but to further fuel it. It provided weapons to the Mujahdins and invested billions of dollars to ensure that a bloody war took place against the progressive and secular Afghans and Soviet troops. It also provided weapons and dollars to Pakistan to carry on its cold war mission in Afghanistan. Impatient to prove its credentials as a super power and intoxicated with the arrogance of power, the Soviet Union also did little to diminish the intensity of this protracting conflict. Instead, by sending troops to Kabul in December 1979, it sent a clear message to the world that Afghanistan was in its zone of influence and eventually it would be Sovietized, come what may. Afghanistan, therefore, became a battleground where a deadly war was fuelled by both the US and Soviet Union. It was a kind of a war which ultimately destroyed the Afghan state, the Afghan nation, Afghan culture and Afghan future for a long time to come and forced millions of Afghans to run for refuge to neighbourig Pakistan and Iran (22).

Besides the Super powers, major regional actors including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan had their own interest in the Afghan crisis. Alarmed by the events like the abolishment of monarchy in 1973 and seizure of power by the communists in 1978, the Saudi ruling elite was determined to fail the new government in Kabul. The prospect of a revolutionary Middle East seeking inspiration and support from revolutionary Afghanistan was too scaring. Further, their policy against the Kabul regime and against Soviet presence in Afghanistan ensured active American support for the survival of Saudi monarchy and for their continued possession of oil wealth. As such, the Saudis pumped in billions of dollars in the name of jihad and wholeheartedly supported militant Islam. In their calculation of power, influence and interest, the Saudis worked hard to serve the American agenda in the region. They had little interest in the quick return of peace and normalcy to Afghanistan and for the early return of the Afghan refugees to their country. For the Saudis, their responsibility to the displaced Afghans ended with the doling out of dollars, de – stabilizing the Soviet – supported regimes in Kabul, exposing the Soviets in the region and beyond, extending substantial support to the US in achieving its objectives in Afghanistan, arming the Mujahideens and ensuring that the Afghan conflict was not resolved soon enough and the power position of their preferred war lords/groups was not compromised.

The case of Pakistan was slightly different. Given the nature of Pak – Soviet relations based on mistrust, especially since Pakistan’s joining the US – sponsored military alliances – Central Treaty Oganization (CENTO) and South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO)-, entrenchment of the feudal and military elite in Pakistani politics, Soviet’s closer ties with India, establishment of a communist regime in neighbouring Afghanistan, presence of Soviet military forces there, well-known and widely propagated Soviet quest for a warm water sea port and the possibility of forcibly acquiring the passage via the port city of Karachi in Pakistan to the Gulf and beyond, the security concerns for Pakistan were doubtless serious enough. But little evidence, if any, is available to suggest that Pakistan seriously endeavored to promote regional peace by adopting a policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, providing confidence to the regimes in Kabul that Islamabad was not interested in their overthrow and favouring circumstances for the early return of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Indeed, Pakistan was not in a hurry for peace in Afghanistan and the military Government of General Zia-ul-Haq, which had come to power by overthrowing the elected and popular Pakistani Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on 5 July 1977, had good reasons for adopting such an approach.

Zia’s government was extremely unpopular both in Pakistan and abroad. He had not only toppled Bhutto but had also hanged him. His was, moreover, very harsh, authoritarian, fascistic rule and the political, democratic forces in the country were opposed to his use and abuse of Islam to stay in power and consolidate his power base. Being afraid of a popular resistance movement against his regime, Zia was desperate for an outlet, for an engaging crisis which could divert the attention of the Pakistani people. Further, Zia’s government suffered from credibility and legitimacy problem. The international media widely treated him as an usurper, a military dictator and a fanatic Muslim and the Western governments were, in particular, reluctant to legitimize his military take-over. The imposition of certain economic and military sanctions had further worsened the situation and the neighbouring, democratic India was having all the recipies for its anti-Pakistan propaganda feasts.

Under the circumstances, the Afghan crisis came as a blessing and Zia seized the opportunity with both hands. There was an instant launching of the propaganda campaign against the progressive government in Kabul, against the Godless society in the Soviet Union, against threats to Islam, against threats to Pakistan, the Gulf and beyond, against capitalism and against vital Western interests in the region. Focused on Zia’s plunder of political power at gun point and on his authoritarian governance, the public opinion in Pakistan was soon swept away. It got focused on dangers emanating from Afghanistan and Soviet Union and the rest was forgotten. Soon the military, strategic and ideological consequences of the regime change in Kabul in 1978 and after emerged as the most engaging themes in the national political discourse in Pakistan.

Furthermore, Zia’s unconditional offer to plunge into the Afghan crisis on behalf of the US, his willingness to play the role of a pawn in the global and regional cold war power game and consent to convert Pakistan into a frontline state reaped immediate harvests. His coup d’etat of July 1977, hanging of Bhutto, dictatorial governance, gross violation of human rights and Islamic rhetorics were no longer major irritants in Pak-West relations. The West had more important things to bother about. An important goal was to keep the Soviet Union engaged in Afghanistan, push it deep into the quagmire and avenge Vietnam. For this war game, the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq was seen to be superbly suited. After all, a military dictator with no popular political base could be more reliable than possibly a reluctant democratic ruler answerable to diverse constituencies. As such, Zia’s government was buttressed and billions of dollars and huge stockpile of weapons poured into Pakistan during the 1980s. Young people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and also from several other Muslim states including Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, were encouraged to join the holy war against the infidels in Kabul. They were also given military training and dollars and the ground was prepared for a long war with the Soviet Union and the communist regime in Afghanistan.

IX. A Peace Perspective on Afghan Migration

Both USA and Pakistan had their own agenda and neither was thinking about the sufferings of the Afghan people and Afghan refugees in case the conflict protracted. In fact, Pakistan needed more and more Afghan refugees to justify its direct and indirect involvement in the conflict and to buttress its claim that it was driven into Afghanistan because of ideological and humanitarian concerns. Subsequently all serious attempts for the return of peace to Afghanistan were successfully aborted. True that the prospects for peace had brightened up by early 1989 when the last Soviet soldier had left Afghanistan and, once again, when the cold war finally came to an end after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. But, by this time, the Afghan warlords and their Jihadi forces, most of whom were nourished, nurtured, trained and pampered by the American CIA, Pakistani ISI and Saudi Petrodollars, had developed a vested interest in warfighting. Hence, the struggle for power and bloodbath in Afghanistan continued. So continued the displacement of the Afghans and their refugeehood in Pakistan and Iran.

The chances for peace were, therefore, not availed by the Afghan leaders. Nor did Pakistan seriously work for peace in Afghanistan. In the post-Soviet period, Islamabad was more interested in playing the role of an imperial power and actively participating in the game of regime change in Kabul. It felt quite comfortable when the Talibans came to power with the full support of Islamabad. However, the long and dark era of fierce Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001 proved to be an era of doom and sufferings for the Afghans. It was also the period when many Afghan refugees living in Pakistan were reluctant to go back to their country. Worse still, during the same period, new waves of Afghan refugees moved toward Pakistan for security and shelter.

It is clear that the issue of governance was at the heart of Afghan conflict and tragedy. The emergence of post Second World War Afghanistan as a modern, progressive, democratic state committed to equitable power – and resource - sharing, and peaceful resolution of ethnic and other internal conflicts might have helped the country escape the tragedies caused by Soviet occupation and uncivil wars. Likewise, Pakistan could have played a peace role and conveyed a clear message to the governments in Kabul and Moscow that a regime change was an internal matter of Afghanistan and only the Afghans could decide as to what kind of government they should have and what kind of policies should Kabul formulate. Such a positive, morale - boosting, non-interfering, peace approach might have given some confidence to the paranoid Kabul governments, might have kept the soviet troops away from Afghanistan and could well have helped avoid the consequent post-1979 bloodsheds and massive displacements of the Afghans. Again, instead of playing up the warring factions against one another and instead of consolidating the power of brutal Talibans in the 1990s, Pakistan could have encouraged the evolution of a sort of modern, constitutional, democratic and peaceful Afghan state. Such an approach might have made a qualitative difference and registered a new beginning for the conflict-ridden, decadent Afghan society. It might have also induced an earlier and joyful return of the Afghan refugees to their country.

X. Conclusion

Keeping in view a sort of peace perspective on conflict and migration, one may deduce a number of conclusions from the above account of Pakistan’s refugee experiences. These, in brief, are following :

  • 1) Conflicts do take place and do induce migrations.

  • 2) Badly managed conflicts have the potential to produce larger number of refugees and migrants.

  • 3) External actors get involved in the volatile situations in a country in order to serve their power political interests and further fuel conflicts and ,in many ways, play a major role in blocking the peaceful resolution of conflicts and in causing forced migration.

  • 4) Internal dynamics in a given society and situation and the kind of policy pursued by a state to deal with the internal and external conflicts contribute to the heating up of a crisis and causing subsequent population displacements.

  • 5) A conflict takes time in flaring up. It sends several signals before exploding. If the given period is utilized for rapid redressal measures to be followed by firm steps for peaceful and democratic resolution of conflicts, then conflicts may be contained and prevented from causing bloodshed and uprooting of the people. Finally, closing of the gates and borders by the potential destination states is not the best policy to prevent the uprooted from rushing in. Neither building-up of legal walls around the destination states and adoption of all kinds of coercive, inhuman, preventive measures to deny the right of refoulement are the best ways of dealing with the issues involved. The important thing is to go to the root of the problem and help the developing countries including Pakistan develop into modern, progressive, democratic, prosperous, pro–people peaceful societies. Indeed, the emergence of Pakistan as a peace state - as a democratic, progressive state - may significantly contribute to peace building in South, Central Asian and Gulf and Middle Eastern regions and considerably, compliment and strengthen international initiatives for highly regulated, non–discriminatory, peaceful and peace and confidence – generating migratory movements in the neighbouring worlds of Pakistan.

Foot Notes

  • (1) David A. Hamburg and Cyrus R. Vance, “The Commission’s Mandate” in Jane E. Holl, Carnegie commission on preventive Deadly conflict, second progress Report, New York: Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, 1996, P.V.

  • (2) The Carnegie Corporation of New York, USA was established the Carnegie Commission on preventing Deadly conflicts in May 1994 to address the looming threats to world peace of intergroup violence and to advance new ideas for the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. The Commission encouraged studies, to examine the principal causes of deadly ethnic, nationalist, and religious conflicts within and between states and the circumstances fostering deterring their outbreak. Taking a long – term, worldwide view of violent conflicts likely to emerge, the Commission sought to determine the functional requirements of an effective system for preventing mass violence and to identify the wars in which such a system could be implemented. I also looked at the strengths and weaknesses of various international entities in conflict prevention and considered ways in which international organizations could contribute toward developing and effective international system of nonviolent problem solving. The commission has numerous publications to its credit. These fall into three categories: Reports to the Commission, Discussion papers, and Reports of the Commission. The publications have been widely circulated among the scholars, practioners, and interested public. For details, the website at www.carnegieorg. May be visited.

  • (3) This is a study on Pakistan’s experience in forced migration. It examines three specific migratory situations occurring on the eve of partition in 1947, dismemberment of Pakistan and arrival of Afghan refugees in 1979 and after. All these case studies have been examined from a particular perspective: peace perspective. As a matter of fact, this paper is an attempt to initiate a debate and discourse on conflict, migration and peace and calls for serious empirical studies on migratory movements in different countries regions and build – up a holistic, normative perspective on forced migration.

  • (4) The term has been derived from the title of a small book published from Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2002. See Imtiaz Ahmed (ed.), Memories of a Genocidal partition: The Haunting Tules of victims, witnesses and perspectives, Colombo: Regional Centre for strategic studies, July 2002.

  • (5) Amena Mohsin, “Partitioned Lives, Partitioned Lands”, in ibid, P. 19.

  • (6) Tapan K. Bose, Protection of Refugees in South Asia: Need for Legal Framework, safhr paper series – 6, Kathmandu : South Asian Forum for Human Rights, January 2000, P. 14.

  • (7) Ian Talbot, “Introduction” in Ahmad Salim (ed.), Lahore 1947 Lahore : Sang – e – Meel publications, 2003, P. 10.

  • (8) Syed Sikander Mehdi, “Refugee Memory in India and Pakistan”, Transeuropeennes No. 19/20, winter 2000 – 2001, P.119.

  • (9) Prakash Tandoon graduated in Science from Government College, Lahore, in 1929. Then he went to England to study commerce at the University of Manchester and later qualified as chartered accountant. He worked in important position in both private and public service organizations in India and also taiyht at Berkeley, Boston, California, Chandigarh, Delhi and Ahmedabad. The three books that comprise his antobiography – Pubjabi Century, Beyond Punjab and Return to Punjab have been published in penguin Books as Punjabi Saga. These are regarded as modern classics.

  • (10) Parkash Tandon, “Through Smoking Towns……” in Ahmad Salim (ed.), op.cit, P. 203.

  • (11) Kamlabehn Patel, “Oranges and Apples” in ibid, P. 244 – 5.

  • (12) According to a study by Zafar Khan on Kashmiri diaspora in Britain, ,majority of Kashmiris in Britain come from Pakistani – held Kashmir. Referring to R. Ballard’s edited work entitled Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain (London: Hurst and company, 1994, P. 20) who had observed that “as many as town – thirds originate from the potohar region South – west of Rawalpindi, especially from Mirpur District in Azad Kashmir”, Zafar adds that inevitably “when we refer to Kashmiris and their activism in the diaspora, we are bound to focus our attention on those who originate from Azad Kashmir.” See Zafar Khan, “Kashmiri diaspora and its role in the United Kingdom” in Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema and Maqsudul Hasan Nuri (eds.), The Kashmir Imbroglio : Looking Towards the Future, Islamabad: Islamabad policy Research Institute, 2005, PP. 30 – 43.

  • (13) See Syed Humayun, “The Issue of Disparities in Pakistan Public Services : A Potent Factor Accentuating Bengali Nationalism” in Verinder Grover & Ranjana Arora (eds.), Political System in Pakistan, vol. 3, New Delhi : Deep & Deep publications, 1995, PP. 556 – 572 and Syed Humayun, Sheikh Mujib’s 6 – Point Formula : An Analytical Study of the Break Up of Pakistan, Karachi: Royal Book Company, 1995.

  • (14) Sandip Bandyopadhay, “Millions seeking Refuge: The Refugee question in west Bengal: 1971” in Pradip Kumar Bose (ed.), Refugees in West Bengal: Institutional Practices and Contested Identities, Calcutta: Calcutta Research Group, 2000, PP. 35.

  • (15) For a study of the impact of exodus on Indian states, see K.C. Shah, “The genocide of 1971and the refugee influx in the east” in Ranabir Samaddar (ed.), Refugees and the state : Practices of Asylum and care in India, 1947 – 2000, New Delhi : Sage Publications, 2003, PP. 211 – 48.

  • (16) Ahmed Ilias, Biharis : the Indian Emigres in Bangladesh, Dhaka: Anime, December 2003, P. 169.

  • (17) Sultana Nahar, “Biharis in Bangladesh : present status, Legal Impediments and Solutions” in Chowdhury R. Abrar (ed.), On the Margin : Refugees, Migrants and Minorities, Dhaka: Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, June 2000, PP. 180 – 81. See also, Muhammad Nur Khan, “Biharis in Banladesh: Forgotten Pakistani Citizens” in Japan Bose and Rita Manchanda (eds.), states, citizens and outsiders : The Uprooted peoples of South Asia, Kathmandu : South Asia Forum for Human Rights, 1997, PP. 138 – 151.

  • (18) See Khalida Ghaus, Trafficking of women and children in South Asia and within Pakistan A National Study, Karachi : Dawn printing press, undated.

  • (19) Alauddin Masood, “Editor’s Note” in Alauddin Masood (ed.), Impelled Afghan Migration to Pakistan, Peshawar: Area Study Centre (Russian and Central Asia), Peshawar University and Hanns Seidel Foundation, December 2000, P. IX.

  • (20) On the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, see Nasreen Ghufran, The Politics of Repatriation: A Case of Afghan Refugee Repatriation from Pakistan 1989 – 2003, unpublished dissertation for the award of Ph.D. Degree in International Relations from the University of Peshawar, The thesis was submitted in October 2004.

  • (21) See ibid, PP. 91 – 176. See also Hiram A. Ruiz, “Afghan Refugees in Pakistan at Risk”, Refugee Report prepared for US Committee for Refugees, (accessed on 20 November 2003) and UNHCR, Voluntary Repatriation from Pakistan 2005, Islamabad : UNHCR branch Office, December 2005.

  • (22) Studies on Afghan conflict and on the role of international and regional actors and Afghan war Lords and militant organizations abound. See Barnett R. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan : State Formation and Collapse in the International System Yale : Yale University Press, 2002, Brigadier Muhammad Yousaf and Major Mark Adkin, The Bear Trap: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, Lahore : Jang Publishers, 1992and Jason Burke, Al – Qaeda : The True Story of Radical Islam, revised ed., London: Penguin Books, 2004.


  • This papaer will be published by end-2007 in asteriskos : Journal of International and Peace Studies, no. 1/2, 2007.

  • A shorter version of this paper was published in Mathew J. Gibney and Randall Hansen (eds.), Immigration and Asylum From 1900 to the Present, 3 vols., vol.2, Santa Barbara, California: ABC – ClIO, Inc., 2005, PP.461 – 65. The tile of the paper was “Pakistan and Refugees”.