Afghan Basti

(© iResist 2023 – both images and text are not to be reproduced in any circumstance)
This is where the iResist journey started when we visited The Afghan Basti in the outskirts of Islamabad – a cluster of mud huts which are home to around 10,000 people Afghan Refugees. These pictures were taken in 2010 in Afghan Basti, showing a handful of the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugee children who have been born and bred in Pakistan. In July 2015, the demolition of this Basti was ordered. The bulldozers came for the people of the Kachi Abadi known as Afghan Basti. On July 30, 2015, the CDA and Islamabad Capital Territory Administration razed this entire settlement. The whole community became homeless in a single day. Although some residents, especially women, symbolically resisted the evictions by climbing to the roofs of their mud huts in front of the heavily armed state forces, the bulldozers ultimately prevailed. 
Over 60 young men belonging to the Basti had been arrested under terrorism charges for stoning the bulldozers that came to destroy their houses. The majority of people living there had worked as labourers at the vegetable market. They could not afford to rent houses. They were dispersed with no idea of where to take their families and belongings; many of them struggling to go back to their native districts.

Pakistan has accommodated one of the world’s largest refugee populations for the past three decades. When the so-called ‘War on Terror’ started in 2001, many of those flooding over the borders near Peshawar and simply re-occupied the sprawling mud-hut cities their fellow refugees had built after fleeing the Russian invasion earlier. Pakistan never offered nationality to Afghan refugees, not even to those who were born in refugee camps, lived in Pakistan for decades and had never lived outside Pakistan all their life.
Author – Aisha Ghazi (Founder – iResist)