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Economics of Afghan exodus

Adverse economic and political dilemmas prevailing in Pakistan. The government has decided to carry crackdown on illegal Afghan immigrants. They were given an ultimatum to voluntarily depart from Pakistan till October. The government has set a stage to involve security forces to forcefully deport illegal Afghan immigrants. The exacerbating situation regarding deadly attacks, the then caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said that 14 out of 24 suicide attacks were carried out by Afghan nationals. We have given them a deadline of 1 November. Bugti further added that 4.4 million Afghan refugees are in Pakistan. Hitherto, 1.7 million out of 4.4 million have illegal status. Pakistan’s caretaker government has set the stage to repatriate 1.7 million Afghans having illegal status.
The primary reason for repatriation is the origination of security concerns due to illegal Afghan immigrants. This policy has intrinsic value incounter-terrorism policies. The general amnesty would not be extended which permitted Afghan citizens to remain for a longer time to pursue asylum cases in UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). The deportation policy curtailed the mobility of Afghans within and across cities and provinces. The implementation of this policy by security forces leads to inhuman behavior toward illegal Afghan immigrants or having lack of proper documentation.
Numerous cases of inadequate behavior have been seen by security forces such as acquiring money from illegal immigrants, and imprisonment of Afghan citizens without any crime. They must do police registration and clearance to do their movement across cities and provinces.
The prevailing situation in Afghanistan is extremely odd and unstable. A country like Afghanistan has few economic opportunities and fewer chances of economic prosperity. The augmented risk of death is ticking like a bomb. The law and order are completely depleted in that country. While political and socio-economic freedom is out of sight. While a falling per capita GDP of 363.7$ in 2021. This decision will not only be a burden on Afghanistan’s economy but also create an impediment to the economic growth of Pakistan.
These illegal immigrants are playing a vital role in the labor force for industries and agriculture in Pakistan. Many of them are also part of the prestigious and profitable business. A greater percentage of Afghan citizens are involved in business across different provinces such as Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan. This will not only affect the individual’s economic prosperity but also affect the fragile economies of respective provinces.
Illegal Afghan immigrants don’t have an activeaccount in Pakistan’s economy. However, the exodus of illegal immigrants created a disguised impact on the economy in real terms. Real estate is also affected by the exodus of illegal Afghan immigrants. These people were tenants in the houses which brought a humongous increase in rents of the property. While some well-off people have owned houses in the name of Pakistan citizens. However, a considerable increase has been seen in the property prices. The exodus has contracted the real estate market and diminished the real estate prices.
The shrinkage of the population will lead to a decrease in consumer spending. As in an economy when consumer spending decreases, it shows a decrease in demand. As we know a decrease in demand leads us to a decrease in supply. Therefore, the economy will get contracted. There will be a cutback in indirect revenue. GST (Goods and services tax) is directly linked with consumer spending. Meanwhile, the deportation of Afghan immigrants leads to a decline in consumer spending. However, it ultimately leads to a decline in indirect revenue.
Bearing in mind the burden on Pakistan’s economy is tailed off due to the deportation of illegal Afghan immigrants. As this deportation and diminishing population will lead us to efficient utilization of resources. The budget expenditure will be optimal and will lead to economic prosperity nationwide. Such a chunk of the population is unskilled labor which is the subsided quality of the population. The repatriation will help track the criminals while it would help address the law-and-order situation in Pakistan.
Numerous human rights activists and nationalist parties opposed the decision and filed a petition to revere and rethink such inhuman policies. Meanwhile, the prevailing abominable border situation will be manifold increased. Sullenness on the border will not only impact political instability but also wretch peace in the fragile provinces. The same ethnic people will suffer on both sides of the border. This policy will bring economic costs in terms of loss in bilateral trade between both countries.
We have analyzed some of the economic costs and economic benefits of the policy regarding the deportation of illegal Afghan immigrants. However, caretaker foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilania ddressing a query over a phone call regarding the economic impact of deportation of illegal Afghan immigrants, said, “The departure of undocumented illegal Afghan immigrants will have no impact on the economy and there is no remarkable contribution in the economic activity”.
Moreover, Ajmal Kakkar, a PIDE researcher in his knowledge brief “Pre-Afghan Taliban refugee exodus and the complexities of returning home” addressed that “Afghans have a remarkable contribution to the economic activity of Pakistan. If we cannot quantify the economic contribution of Afghans, then we cannot assume that they have minimal economic role in Pakistan’s economy”.