Japan and Pakistan Struggle to Help Afghan Refugees
By Tien Phan
Despite good intentions in trying to assist Afghanistan, Japan and Pakistan are suffering from unexpected blowbacks from different directions due to their desire to assist.
For almost four decades, Afghanistan has suffered through numerous conflicts. As the result of everything from invasion to regime changes, the country is almost unable to recover without foreign aid.
Both internal and external conflicts seem to be a never-ending tale of misery for the people of Afghanistan.
Because of good relations and geographical similarities, both Japan and Pakistan contribute aid to Afghanistan. According to Menafn, the Japanese government agrees to provide $2.7 million to refugees inside Afghanistan and to humanitarian communities in host countries where these refugees reside.
Recently, Imran Khan, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, promised to grant citizenship to refugees from Afghanistan, a decision that can affect millions of individuals, says CNN.
This aid will certainly help the refugees in these unfortunate times The National Bureau of Asian Research states that since 2001, only the United States has done more than Pakistan and Japan in terms of aiding Afghanistan in their restoration process.
Other than preventing the spread of terrorism, Japan’s motivation in their ties with Afghanistan is unclear. Regardless, it is necessary to assist those in need, which is precisely what Japan is doing.
Furthermore, with Imran Khan as Pakistani’s head of state, many Afghanis are hopeful that they can stay permanently in Pakistan. Despite minimal opportunities, they will at least have a nation to call home.
While not specifying whom he would grant citizenship to, Mr. Khan leans more toward those who are born on Pakistani soil saying that, “when you are born in America, you get the American passport. It is the practice in every country in the world, so why not here? Why are we so cruel to these people? They are humans.”
However, every action has consequences, and even those with good intentions are not exceptions. These humanitarian efforts are creating burdens for the very countries willing to help.
For instance, Japan’s economy has not performed well for over 20 years, and this aid can further regress the economy. As of 2017, Japan is the fifth largest economy in the world, but their growth is estimated to be only 1.5 percent, reports the Balance.
Because of their dependence on automobile manufacturing exports, an external pivot towards electric vehicles might slow down Japan’s economy.
Moreover, since retaking office in 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has imposed “Abenomics” in an effort to combat recession. This move has proven to have its own series of setbacks.
Abenomics appears to be effective on paper, however, it is rather harmful in practice. Mr. Abe expects that with the devaluation of the yen would increase exports by making Japanese goods more competitive abroad. However, due to outsourcing from foreign companies to countries that can produce goods at a lower-cost that did not work.
As for Pakistan, granting another 1.5 million individuals citizenship may be a quick path to chaos given its existing population. With decades of an unstable economy and limited international donors, it is difficult to believe that accepting new citizens will be a net benefit.
The Pakistani Prime Minister plans to ask the International Monetary Fund for a bailout in order to focus on development issues. Either that, or Pakistan will continue to develop on China for many more years, adds Reuters.
If Mr. Khan is willing to further his promise of granting citizenship to refugees, according to The Tribune, political backlash inevitable. Despite the fact that the plan is idealistic, individuals on either side of the political spectrum have advised Mr. Khan to keep focusing on domestic development.
Individuals also disagree with Mr. Khan over issues of national security. Many refugees are second or third generation, so they are more prone to terrorist exposure in their surroundings, and giving them naturalization can be costly in a near future.