March 1998 News

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Anti-Afghan rally in POK on 2nd day

10th March 1998
The Dawn

MUZAFFARABAD, A big anti-Afghan rally was staged on the second consecutive day on Sunday in Rawlakot in order to press the administration for immediate ejection of Afghans from the area, police sources and witnesses said.

The rally was triggered when a local trader was injured by two Afghan refugees during a brawl on Saturday. The Afghans were however, arrested by police. On Sunday, the shutters also remained down and a rally, attended by about 1500 people, was held at Munir chowk. The participants of the rally chanted slogans against Afghans describing them as "suppliers of illegal arms and narcotics."

Speaking at the rally, Advocate Sardar Saghir Ahmad of Liberation Front, Mohammad Abid of MC(S), and traders demanded of the government to immediately expel the Afghans from the AJK.

Accusing the Afghans of addicting the local youth, they said they would not allow them to continue their stay in the state and continue their dubious trade. They warned that if the administration did not take any step, in this regard, they would themselves get rid of the Afghan refugees.

They said that this was unjust that the Kashmiri refugees were starving while the Afghan refugees were being provided every facility.

They warned that if the Afghans did not left the area by March 22, the people would stage dharnas (sit-in) every-where. A trader warned the Afghan shopkeepers against opening their shops and said traders would also evolve a strategy for their ejection. A senior police official, who also hails from Rawlakot city, told Dawn here on Sunday, that the AJK government could not make any policy about ejection of Afghans at its own unless the same was announced by Pakistan government. He denied the allegations that the Afghans were drug pushers. He said "rather they are good businessmen and offer items on cheaper rates."

Besides, he continued, some pro-independence groups were also fanning the issue for cheap publicity. The official however expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved within next few days. He said the government had already imposed section 144 on merchandising by Afghans in Rawlakot.


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