SUP protests expected in Mirpur Khas today

The Sindh United Party (SUP) will today commence its second phase of hunger strikes and sit-ins in Mirpur Khas to

Pakistan WashingtonPost

Photo: The Washington Post

The Sindh United Party (SUP) will today commence its second phase of hunger strikes and sit-ins in Mirpur Khas to demand the immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees in Sindh province.

The Sindh government has called on the federal government, led by the centrist Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, to expedite this process due to Sindhi complaints of overcrowding, abundant crime, civil unrest and unemployment caused by the roughly three million refugees.

Pakistan has pursued a liberal humanitarian assistance program that has provided amnesty to Burmese, Bihari, Afghan, Bengali and African groups, many of whom are allegedly unregistered. This has brought a shift in the provincial demographic composition and, according to critics, has augmented the sense of persecution felt by the Sindhi population.

The federal government’s decision to extend the stay of registered Afghan refugees—endorsed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)—lapsed on June 30. Despite this, the government has yet to enforce any repatriation. As the upcoming review of the 18th constitutional amendment could potentially grant Prime Minister Imran Khan greater executive powers, the federal government may choose to further suspend the repatriation of refugees to preclude the cross-border spread of COVID-19. Allegations of manipulated refugee registration by the National Database Regulatory Authority, coupled with the pandemic-induced strain on national resources, could very well spark ethnic conflict in Sindh province.

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