Pakistan: PESHAWAR: Contrary to the widespread notion of massive involvement of Afghan refugees in major crimes, a study has revealed that they constitute just over one per cent of those found to have been involved in offences deemed heinous.
Documents retrieved through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act, 2013 provide startling details of crime statistics involving Afghan refugees that run contrary to the claims often peddled by the civil law enforcement agencies.
These documents were obtained from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s Directorate of Prosecution and Department of Police to cross-check and corroborate the statistics.
The statistics obtained pertain to the period from 2014 to Sept 30, 2016, and involve major crimes including kidnapping for ransom, kidnapping and abduction, murder, robbery, extortion and bombing.
According to the Directorate of Prosecution, a total of 11,685 cases were registered during the period, out of which 10,549 were put up in court. Out of these, only 134 involved Afghan refugees. This comes to 1.27 per cent of the total number of cases landing in court.
The cases involved 23,007 accused, of which only 300 were Afghan refugees. Thus, the percentage of Afghan refugees accused of the said crimes comes to 1.3pc.
The statistics fly in the face of claims often bandied about by the civil law enforcement agencies, which routinely blame Afghan refugees for the spike in crimes across the province.
Before the escalation of militancy in the region and even after it, police would often blame Afghan refugees for some of the heinous crimes, including kidnapping for ransom, extortion and bombing.
The oft-quoted figures about Afghan refugees’ involvement in offences ranged from 15pc to 30pc of the total crimes taking place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, although neither did the police nor any other civil law enforcement agency come up with credible evidence to corroborate the claims.
The figures provided by the Department of Police, however, are slightly higher than those obtained from the Directorate of Prosecution, which is mandated to pursue cases in the courts of law.
The year-wise figure provided by the Department of Police shows that a total of 146 cases involving Afghan refugees were registered in 2014 as against the record of the prosecution directorate which puts the total number of such cases landing in court at 56 only.
Similarly, according to the Department of Police, a total of 96 cases were registered against Afghan refugees in 2015. The record of the Directorate of Prosecution shows that only 49 cases were put up in court during the period.
The Department of Police says a total of 100 cases were registered against Afghan refugees between January 1 and September 30, 2016. According to the Directorate of Prosecution, however, only 29 cases pertaining to the Afghan refugees were put up in court during the period.
The difference between the figures provided by the police and those given by the prosecution directorate could be attributed to the fact that while policemen routinely register cases, only the ones whose challans are complete are put up in court. The figures provided by the Directorate of Prosecution, thus, are considered authentic.
In 2014, according to the prosecution, of the total 87 cases of kidnapping for ransom, only nine involved Afghan refugees. Out of the 3,386 cases of murder registered during the period 32 involved Afghan refugees. Of the 133 cases pertaining to bomb blasts, only one case involved Afghan refugee.
During 2015, according to the documents, of the 70 cases of kidnapping for ransom, only three involved Afghan refugees and out of the 2,519 murder cases, only 28 involved Afghan refugees. A total of 57 cases of bomb blasts were registered during the period, but none involved an Afghan.
Similarly, from January to September last year, 33 cases of kidnapping for ransom were registered out of which only one involved an Afghan. Of the 2,033 murder cases registered during the period, 14 were put up in court against Afghans, while out of the 61 cases registered for bomb explosions, four were put up in court against Afghans.
Extortion that had until recently seen a spike before dipping down also did not have significant involvement of Afghans. During the period from 2014 to 30th September, 2016, a total of 384 cases of extortion were registered, according to the statistics provided by the prosecution directorate, of which only nine cases were put up in court against Afghan refugees.
“This is a classic case of the term ‘post-truth’,” said Khalid Aziz, a former bureaucrat and head of the Regional Institute of Policy Research & Training. “Truth is created to justify a certain action.”
“No one asks whether it is true or not,” he said of the exaggerated figures of involvement of Afghans in heinous crimes. “No correlation is carried out.”
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2017