Even as cross-border shelling along the Durand Line remains a recurring irritant in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, the possible flow of Afghan refugees westward is adding a fresh strain to bilateral ties with Kabul on Thursday stating that Islamabad cannot take a unilateral decision on the refugee situation.

Pakistan is host to approximately 1.7 million Afghan refugees. This is after the UNHCR has facilitated the return of 3.7 million refugees, making it one of the largest and most protracted refugee situations in the world. Though Pakistan has been maintaining that registered refugees would not be forced to return, there have been reports from Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa that those without proper documentation have been asked to leave since last month. This has evidently upset Afghanistan which still does not feel itself capable of dealing with refugees returning not just from Pakistan but also other neighbouring countries.

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