PESHAWAR-Thousands of Afghan refugees in the Jalozai refugee camp affiliated with various Jehadi organizations during the Soviet Union invasion on Afghanistan have refused to go back to their home country fearing attacks and killings at the hands of their communists-Northern Alliance– rivals now controlling the country. Located 35 kilometers southwest of Peshawar the Jalozai camp housed some 122,000 people, around 40, 000 of whom are not willing to be repatriated at least in the current circumstances where NATO forces attacks on civilian population have almost become a rountine. Pakistan government have announced to close four refugee camps this year and deadline for the Jalozai camp was 31 August but it was delayed to the end of the year (31 December) after repeated request by the refugee elders. These refugees were affiliated with Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Jamaat-u-Dawa of Sheikh Jamilur Rehman and later with Taliban. As now these organizations are disorganized and not present on the ground, their former members say that during their Jihad against the Soviets, they have earned enmity of the communists now combined in the form of the Northern alliance now command the whole affairs of Afghanistan. Majority of these Afghans are from Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman, Khost, Paktia, Kabul, Tekhar and Qanduz provinces.
Maulana Abdul Qayyum told that the going back to Afghanistan at this time is like committing suicide. “We request Pakistani government and human rights organizations to allow us stay here till peace is restored in Afghanistan,” he said. He said that if these refugees were sent by force it will be a human tragedy as many of these will be eliminated. He cited examples of their colleagues who returned two back from a refugee camp in Bajaur and who faced persecution at the hands of the Northern Alliance. The former communists dubbed the repatriated Afghan as Pakistani agents and Taliban supporters. Afghan government provided some land to these people and they started living there. Some of them got employment in the government departments while others engaged themselves in business. In the Barkandi area some six men, serving in the Afghan police, from the repatriated refugees were traveling returning their homes on leave but was ambushed by the foreign forces and killed them. The men from Northern Alliance provided intelligence to the US troops that they are Taliban. After the local people protest Governor of the Kunar province Syed Fazl Akbar assured the people that the mistake would not be repeated. But in another incident Dr Naimatullah, who was Tehsildar of the Narang area during the Taliban period, his mother, wife and son were killed. Dr Naimatullah came back to his home after Kazai announced amnesty for the people affiliated with Taliban and other jihadi organizations. A Hizb-e-Islami former member, Abdul Wali was accused of spying for Pakistan and Taliban. He was handed over to NATO forces for investigation by elders of the area in the Ganjkal area but after three days his dead body was returned. He was tortured to death.
Former supporters of Taliban and Jihadi organization who had returned to their country are sending messages to those living in the Jalozai camp not to return as they will also be persecuted. “We have fought against the communists for 14 years and we came to Pakistan due to these communists and we have developed personal enmities with them,” Maulana Qayyum said. He said that the Americans don’t know that Northern Alliance people are taking revenge from us by dubbing their former rivals as Taliban supporters and Pakistani agents. The Law of Jungle, he said, is prevailing in Afghanistan and there is no forum to redress people concerns.
The refugees however want to go home country back but after restoration of peace. “If we are forced we will prefer to merge in the local population or will start living in the mountains instead of putting our children at the mercy of the Northern alliance,” Maulana Qayyum said. The refugees in the Jalozai camp said that they neither fight nor face harassment of their former rivals. However, those refugees who were not members of Taliban or former jihadi organization are going back to Afghanistan.
Local people think that if the camp was vacated by force, the refugees who are now doing their businesses will turn to criminal activities. “If these people lost their businesses they will have no other option but to resort to dacoitees, smuggling and other anti-state activities,” Salim a Taxi driver said. Presently there is a community of Afghan elders and whenever a refugee is accused of committing any crime, local police ask the committee and the wanted person is handed over to police for investigation but after the abandonment of the camp the criminals will get a free hand.
Jalozai camp is one of the oldest camp set up after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda founder Abdullah Azzam founded the “Dawat-o-Jihad University” here which has been closed now. Refugee say that Abdullah Azzam visited the university every week to deliver a lecture in the university. Abdullah Azzam, Abid Sheikh, brother Khalid Sheikh, who died during fighting against the Soviet forces in Khost are buried here. Another prominent Arab, Sheikh Tamim, teacher of Abdullah Azzam grave is also in the camp graveyard. Sheikh Tamim went to America for treatment but died there and according to his will, he was buried in the Jalozai camp graveyard. However, all the graves are kachas and no name was inscribed on the graveyards, no one can recognize the graves of these prominent Arab leaders.