The hypocrisy of the West: Afghan refugees caught in the crossfire

| Updated: 05 November, 2023 12:00 pm IST
Pakistan has given an ultimatum to all Afghan refugees living there to exit or suffer deportation

In the complex world of global politics, it is often the most vulnerable who are prone to decisions made by those in power. The recent deportation of Afghan refugees by Pakistan has shed light on an issue of hypocrisy in the West when it comes to the plight of Afghan refugees. While these refugees have been caught in a web of geopolitical power struggles, it is essential to address the hypocrisy that exists in the West’s view. 

Afghanistan has long been a region characterized by conflict and instability. As the Afghan government and the Taliban grapple for control, it is the Afghan people who are suffering the most. Over the years, millions of Afghan refugees have sought refuge in neighbouring Pakistan, which has historically provided a safe place for those escaping the horrors of their homeland. However, Pakistan’s recent ultimatum for illegal Afghan immigrants to leave the country within a mere 28 days highlights the dire situation Afghan refugees face today. The very people who sought refuge in Pakistan due to the turmoil in their own country are now compelled to make an uncertain choice: leave or face deportation. 

As winter approaches Afghanistan, the situation for returning refugees is even more dire. Many have lost their homes and livelihoods. The result is turmoil and uncertainty in Afghan refugee camps, with many families facing the harsh realities of survival in a war-torn nation. 

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What is particularly striking in this situation is the glaring hypocrisy in the Western world’s response. While Western nations have been hesitant to advocate for human rights and humanitarian assistance, they have largely shifted their attention to the suffering of Afghan refugees caught in the conflict of regional politics. 

What is also surprising is the absence of street protests, demonstrations, and media campaigns in response to the situation in Afghanistan, both in the Muslim world and the West. This lack of response is due to a perceived lack of interest or concern for Afghan refugees and the hypocrisy of certain expatriates who are selective in their expressions of concern for human rights and justice, which may be driven by political or ideological biases rather than genuine empathy.

India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) were met with international outcry, with the United Nations human rights office deeming it discriminatory. The CAA aimed to fast-track citizenship for minorities facing religious persecution in their countries. There has been support for Islamism by some leftists and liberals in the West, especially in the wake of the 10/7 attacks. Media and academia have been found justifying and even celebrating acts of violence and terrorism in the name of “liberation.” The divergent treatment of India’s CAA and NRC by the global community may be linked to the support for Islamism by some leftists and liberals, leading to a negative portrayal of India’s efforts to protect persecuted minorities.

This hypocrisy should not be ignored. The West, which has often positioned itself as a champion of human rights and humanitarian values, must confront its deficiencies. Afghan refugees are not mere figures; they are human beings who have endured immense hardship and are now facing an uncertain future. We urge the international community, particularly Western nations, to adhere to the same standards they advocate for and take a proactive approach in assisting Afghan refugees. It is crucial that these countries prioritise the welfare of those who have been displaced by conflict and instability, regardless of the political situation at play.

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