islamabad pakistan

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PAKISTAN. Outskirts of Islamabad. February 20 & 25 & 26, 2014. Portraits of Afghan refugees.

(1) Eight-year-old Ibraheem Rahees.

(2) Six-year-old Zarlakhta Nawab.

(3) Seven-year-old Hazrat Babir.

(4) Five-year-old Hamagai Akbar.

For three decades, the world’s largest source of refugees has been Afghanistan. Beginning in 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded the country, millions poured across the Afghan borders with Pakistan and Iran. After the war with the Soviets ended in 1989, many remained as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Ahmed Shah Massoud and other warlords clashed for control of the country during the early 1990s. In the latter half of the decade, the Taliban rose from the ashes of the civil war, driving millions more from Afghanistan and keeping those who had already fled far from their homes.

The result is that entire generations of Afghan children have been born and lived their entire lives in Pakistan.

“Their tough life makes them look older and react as elderly people,” Muheisen said, “but their innocence is right there in their eyes.“ The boys and girls in Muheisen’s portraits are only a handful of the millions of Afghan refugees living inside Pakistan, a forgotten few in the middle of a largely forgotten mass of people.

Photographs: Muhammed Muheisen/AP