کور / بېلابيلي لیکني - پخوانۍ / The Impact of Pakistan in Afghan Refugee Life

The Impact of Pakistan in Afghan Refugee Life


This article is a part of the ( Afghan woman under the shadow of … writen bye Alia Akbar Rawi )


When my children and I traveled to Pakistan, I feared that we might get captured. We had some difficulty crossing the border because of my Kabul accent; on one side of the border were Afghans, and on the other, some mean Pakistani border people and police. I had been to Pakistan three times before the war.


This time, the Pakistani people were different, mean, and the police were meaner to Afghan people as well. The police asked us refugees for bribes, and treated us like helpless, homeless people. There were deferent kinds of Afghan people in Pakistan other than who wanted not to stay and were in journey to other countries to my knowledge. One kind lived in their own places and had connections to the police and to Mujahedeen leaders and commanders. Most of these people were with jobs, merchants or smugglers and drug dealers and in good condition of living in disguise as religious people. They went after whatever goods the new refugees had—especially original Afghan currency, since it was difficult to find.


There was much fake Afghan money available, which had been created by the Communist government in Russia, as well as older currency that somehow had gotten into circulation but with high value.The middle class people were after coming out of Pakistan. The other kind of Afghan people in Pakistan were the poor class people. They lived mostly on campuses by millions, with no access to schools or security. They had to send their children to religious schools for reading and writing lessons. There were no heating or cooling facilities for poor people where they lived, The health facilities were also few and far between and no one could afford private doctors.there were lots of deaths and kidnaps in campuses.


58 Alia Rawi Akbar These poor people relied on the UN for help, though that aid was limited; there was not enough to go around. What little food rations they received were often stolen by the authorities and sold to others. The police were also after these poor people for bribes. There was much disease among these people. In the winter, they suffered from the cold and in the summer, from the heat under Tent. Their children were not safe from kidnapping and somebody told me later, while I was in the Germany, that any kidnapped children’s organs had been sold in China, I also heard that the Pakistani government knew about this, but did nothing. The UN must have known about it as well. Among the poor people, there were girls for sale and many of them were forced into marriages with Pakistanis and Arabs or militia. Women suffered greatly and lived in misery; they had to do any sort of low job they could find. They also suffered from depression and many other diseases. The two months I spent there were the ugliest I’d even experienced.


 After seeing how refugees lived in Pakistan, and the power that the “business” people held over them, I realized that the Mujahedeen commanders had close relationships with the police. Everything was sad about the poor Afghans’ life there. They had no positive cultural or traditional practices anymore and in fact, slowly began to adopt the Pakistani culture—or, at least, had to act like they did. The Pakistanis disrespected the honor of both men and women. Most Afghans adopted the Pakistani culture, but also its prejudice; they adopted a sense of unkindness and began not to feel mercy toward other poor and helpless people. The business people were so sneaky, and all were deceivers and cheaters; they did not even keep their word amongst themselves. This new kind was stressful for the Afghan refugees, who had never lived in another country this way, and were not used to a different system and culture. For me, even though I’d been in Pakistan three times already, everything was surprising because previously, the Afghan people had not been cheap for the Pakistani people. They were counted as advanced people with dignity. Before Pakistanis were trying hard to get to our freedom celebrations, which were held once a year in Kabul. Most of them were bragging about it afterwards. My in-laws lived in Pakistan for many years before the war, and when I saw them at this time, I realized how much they had changed.


Pakistani society had crept into their lives. It was sad that so many Afghan people were adopting it. But in Afghanistan, among the common people, there was still trust and reliance, even in wartime. People helped each other through the misery that the militia caused them, and business was still done by verbal communication and Afghan Women 59 witnesses. Before the war, people were so warm, honest and brave, down to earth, with good social contacts and relationships. In Afghanistan I was afraid, though, that the Communist government’s militia and the Mujahedeen’s militia wouldn’t have mercy on anyone, and would kill many innocent people in their fight against each other. This bothered many people, to the point that they left the country at great risk to their own safety. Most headed toward Pakistan or Iran and India. They left by the millions. After I became a refugee I realized that we would have a long journey. My husband at that time was hopeful about being in Pakistan, but to go back to Afghanistan after the war, to continue his businesses. For the time being, he let one of his relatives run the business. His family in Pakistan did not want him to travel any further, and put pressure on me when I had the idea to go to Germany to find my family. After many arguments, they had to accept the fact that I was suffering in Pakistan, and that for the sake of my children, I had to travel to Germany. I was also, however, thinking about my own well-being; I thought that in a western country, where medicine was more advanced, I could find someone to cure my illness.


After two months of living in Pakistan, we traveled to Germany. We had no money, and went the same way that others were traveling—with expensive fake passports. In Germany, we lived in an old motel from wartime in a poor situation. My third child was born there, and as an infant, he suffered from poor nutrition because the woman we stayed with was cheating us. Finally, I confronted her, and after a year, I got him the right nutrition. Many other Afghans lived in that old building and every day, there were political discussions and arguments among them, often about their different leaders and their leaders’ doings. Most of these people were waiting for American visas. They were depressed, and tired of life in the old dirty motels in Germany with bad management. There were always discussions about war situation and out come of it, I was invited to these discussions, and I talked about peace, unity and women’s rights. In those years, the Communists were using and abusing women, in many different ways, in the name of democracy. Afghan culture was ignored completely, and women were suffering the most, whether they were in the country or exiled. My husband was against my appearance in these gatherings, and finally ordered me not to go to them. Because of him, I had to forget pen, paper and speech. In Germany, we did not have visas to work and were stuck in a miserable 60 Alia Rawi Akbar way of life. We were discriminated against everywhere—in subways, in shopping areas, in social places. It was hard for us because we were not used to this kind of thing. At the time, still I was suffering from depression but was not being treated for it yet.