Afghanistan: April 9, 2005


When the Taliban regime collapsed in late 2001, nearly 6.5 million Afghans were refugees, mostly in Pakistan, but with some in Iran. Since then, some 3.5 million have returned. There are now about 2.9 million left, almost all in Pakistan, with some two-thirds of them in the Northwest Frontier Province. Efforts are underway to get them all home within the next year or so. This will probably put a considerable strain on the Afghan economy, but may pay off in a number of ways. Most of these people were anti-Taliban, and would bolster government support. At the same time, the fringe who are likely to be Taliban supporters will have to chose between remaining in Pakistan in the hope of joining the remnants of the movement, or returning home and behaving themselves.


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