Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan ordered the Punjab IG on Sunday to furnish a report on Afghan immigrants in Southern Punjab. The order was issued after security and intelligence agencies showed concerns over the activities of Afghan nationals in the Taunsa Sharif area of Dera Ghazi Khan.
Taunsa is the last Punjabi tehsil before Khyber Pakhtunkhwa begins. The influx of Afghans in the area has been a cause of concern for authorities for quite some time now. Both Waziristans and the tribal areas are easily accessible from Southern Punjab in general and Taunsa Sharif through provincial tribal areas called PATA. The tehsil acts as a bridge between what is ‘Ilaqaa Gher’ and mainland Pakistan.
“Pickets are in place, the Border Military Police are making rounds regularly, and we’ve recovered arms and ammunition worth Rs 5,000,000 from two cars, conducted various search operations. Car smuggling is also rampant. We are vigilant and will do our level best according to the dictates of law,” said DSP-Taunsa Saleem Ullah Niazi while speaking with Pakistan Today. When asked whether the Punjab IG had issued any order pertaining to Afghan immigrants, the DSP responded in the negative.
AC Taunsa, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, when contacted said that the issue does not concern his office and that he was in no position to comment.
An Afghan immigrant on condition of anonymity confided with Pakistan Today that his family has a business in Southern Punjab. “My three uncles were lucky as they got their Pakistani Identity cards made during better days. I and my father don’t have Pakistani cards and the whole process to get one has become tough. I am willing to pay any price if only I can get a hold of one ,” he said, visibly disturbed.
SHO Vehoa Chaudhary Azhar was approached for a comment but cut the call short after saying, “Print what you please, I don’t give a damn at all.”
There are hundreds of Afghan immigrants residing in Taunsa Sharif, many of them pretend to be Pakistani Pashtuns hailing from tribal areas of Pakistan. The suicide bomb blast on October 14, 2015 at Amjad Farooq Khosa’s office took eight lives and is still fresh in the minds of people. The danger is real and hasn’t gone away.
Aman Development Council’s President Ghulam Mujtaba Zafar Leghari said that it is about time that locals unite against alien elements.
“Afghans are the main paddlers of narcotics like hashish and marijuana used by young people in Taunsa Sharif. They are causing havoc to the social fabric of our society and earn money through foul means. They pay no heed to morals and values. It is about time that officials take prompt action to end this menace once and for all,” Asad Leghari, a social worker with a local NGO, said while commenting on the issue.
It is yet to be seen how the orders from Nisar will be carried out by officials here. Southern Punjab needs to be rid of terror and terrorists. The role of local officials has so far been passive and disinterested; for real change to come they must wake from their slumber.