ISLAMABAD – A latest survey conducted by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to determine the quantum of Afghans and Pakistanis in the marked Afghan Basti, Sector I-11/1, has brought to light some eye-opening facts.
The survey conducted in the first week of this month, unveiled that some 7995 individuals comprising 864 families are occupying CDA’s valuable land in Sector I-11/1.
Out of 864 families, some 47 families (415 individuals) are of Punjab origin, 114 registered Afghan families comprising 1022 individuals, 27 non-registered Afghan families (254 individuals), 324 families (3199 individuals) are of Mohmand and Bajaur Agencies origin, while 3105 individuals making up 352 families are from the different cities of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The interesting fact that also came to surface is more than 350 individuals over the age of 18 have national identity cards mentioning Rawalpindi as their permanent residence address.
As per survey, 121 families (1018 individuals) of Mardan, 92 families (877 individuals) of Peshawar, 42 families (382 individuals) of Charsadda, 40 families (355 individuals) of Sawabi, 23 families (188 individuals) of Dir (Lower/Upper), 10 families (71 individuals) of Nowshehra are residing in Katchi Abadi I-11/1 under the guise of IDP’s of troubled areas of KPK.
Other families are from Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Mansehra, Swat, Malakan, Kohistan, Baden, Chitral, Buneer, Batgram, Loralai and Kohat.
Before this survey, the UNHCR had declared that only 42 to 45 families of Afghan refugees were residing in Afghan Basti, Sector I-11/1.
The Capital Development Authority, which this time seems serious to resolve the issue of Afghan Basti by completely rooting out this illegal locality, has chalked out a comprehensive plan for permanent repatriation of Afghan refugees and KPK residents to their respective areas.
The recent survey is carried out as first phase of a larger operation titled “Aman, Salamti and Behtari.” The operation is aimed to retrieve CDA’s land in Sector I-11/1 and to permanently resolve the issues linked with the adverse occupation of land by these illegal settlers.
It has also been learnt through the survey that a large chunk of these illegal settlers is the employees of millionaire wholesale dealers/merchants of nearby fruit/vegetable market.
Under the operation “Aman, Salamti and Behtari” the settlers belonging to KPK and FATA would be sent back to their native cities for which a rehabilitation package along with necessary logistics would be provided to them. For provision of rehabilitation package, non-governmental organizations would be asked to come forward.
While arrangements would also be made to repatriate the registered Afghan refugees.
However, it’s worth mentioning here that during a meeting held on November 30, 2012, regarding the issue, Dr Alokzai of Ministry of Refugees & Repatriation, Afghanistan was of the view that winter season and snowfall in Afghanistan had already been started and that the Afghans living in Afgan Basti are very poor.
Alokzai had requested that these Afghan families be allowed to stay with others in the green belt of Sector H-12 till summer season. But the matter of fact is that CDA wants early repatriation of these Afghan refugees. “In Sector I-11/1 CDA has been facing a social problem rather an encroachment issue by IDP’s or Afghan refugees. If we evict these people, the rich wholesale dealers of nearby fruit and vegetable market having wealth in millions will be deprived of cheap labour,” commented an official of the Authority.
“Why don’t they (dealers) shift their labourers to rented houses in Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” the officer said adding the issue could be resolve with 10 days if all the concerned stakeholders seriously play their part of role in the operation.