PESHAWAR, Pakistan, May 13 (UPI) -- Pakistan has begun reducing the flow of Afghan immigrants, fearing that the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan might trigger an overload of new arrivals.
Officials are concerned the withdrawal of U.S. troops and decline in foreign aid will prompt an influx of Afghans into Pakistan, which already has the world's largest refugee population. Over seven million people have entered Iran and Pakistan from Afghanistan since the Soviet invasion in 1979.
There are 1.6 million legally registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, but officials believe one to three million more are present illegally.
"We want them to go back to their own country," said Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, noting the burden to Pakistan's economy and opportunity presented to Islamist militants, with ties to Afghanistan, to operate in Pakistan.