The government of Pakistan has recently decided to deport all illegal and undocumented foreigners from the country. This decision has put those Afghan refugees at risk of deportation, who were already residing in this country without legal travel documents, and those Afghans who entered Pakistan after the political situation changed in Afghanistan in 2021.
At the same time, Pakistani authorities reported that the Islamabad police started a search operation in the Afghan-inhabited areas of Bara Kahu, Trinol, Mahar Abadian, Golra, and Shams and arrested 800 Afghan citizens. According to officials, 400 Afghan citizens were released by presenting their residency documents. The Islamabad police further said that 375 Afghan citizens did not have shown documents and the remaining 25 Afghans will be detained until their identity documents are checked. Then all of them will be deported.
Jalil Abbas Jilani, the minister of the interior government of Pakistan, said: "No country allows illegal people to reside in their country, whether it is Europe, whether it is in Asian countries or our neighborhoods. Therefore, by international practice, we have made this decision". Mr. Jilani adds: "Whenever there was a problem, people migrated to Pakistan, sought refuge in Pakistan." Another Pakistani official has said that the decision to deport these migrants is in accordance with Pakistan's laws, and the government is determined to implement it.
Taliban representatives at the Afghan embassy in Islamabad said local authorities had begun arresting Afghans, even those with legal documents. The embassy said more than a thousand Afghans have been detained in the past two weeks. The Afghan embassy in Islamabad, which the Taliban runs, says several Afghan refugees have died mysteriously after being arrested by Pakistani police. The embassy said it has informed the Pakistani authorities in this regard and once again asked them to stop arresting and harassing Afghan immigrants.
Pakistan has hosted many Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and nearly 3 million still live there. About 1.73 million Afghans in Pakistan lack legal documents, and the total number of Afghan immigrants in Pakistan is 4.4 million. This year, the increase in insecurity along the border of the two countries has intensified the tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan relates the root of insecurity in this country to factors based in Afghanistan. In defense of the decision to deport Afghans, Pakistani authorities have recently accused Afghan citizens of being involved in insecurity in the country.
On the other hand, according to the report of Pakistan's Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, which deals with Afghan refugees, more than 1.3 million Afghan refugees have temporary cards, while more than 800,000 people have Afghan citizenship cards. Of the registered Afghans, 52 percent live in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa state in the northwest bordering Afghanistan, another 321,677 Afghans currently live in Baluchistan state, 191,53 in Punjab, and 73,789 in Sindh. In the port city of Karachi, 41 thousand 520 people live in the capital Islamabad, and 4 thousand 352 people live in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan's treatment of refugees has resulted in the reaction of activists and international organizations supporting refugees and migrants. Following the announcement of the plan to deport more than one million Afghan refugees from Pakistan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a joint statement on October 7, 2023, asked the government of Pakistan to cancel the deport implementation plan. The joint statement of the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees states: "Afghanistan is going through a severe humanitarian crisis with several human rights challenges, especially for women and girls." The organization added: "Such plans will have serious consequences for all those who were forced to leave the country and may face serious security risks after returning."
An official of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan has said that any return of refugees should be voluntary and without any pressure. The organization is ready to help and support the Pakistani authorities in finding a suitable solution.
The request came after Pakistan ordered all undocumented refugees, including about 1.73 million Afghan citizens, to leave the country by November 1, 2023, or face forced deportation. Some families have left for Afghanistan to avoid detention and forced deportation. Pakistan's government has announced a daily countdown to remind the subject of the policy that time is running out. The government of Pakistan has ordered all undocumented refugees, estimated at 1.73 million people, to leave the country by November this year.
Many refugees facing deportation include hundreds of thousands of families who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power in August 2021 and imposed extensive restrictions on women's education and work.
Amnesty International, which published a detailed report on the persecution of Afghan migrants by the Pakistani police a few months ago, has once again emphasized that the situation of these refugees in Pakistan is worrying. The organization wrote: "Many Afghans who fled to Pakistan out of fear of the Taliban have been subjected to arbitrary arrests and threats of deportation. It is very worrying that Afghan refugees in Pakistan are not receiving international attention. The forced return of Afghan nationals could lead to severe human rights violations, including family separation and deportation of minors.
It is said that 18,000 Afghan refugees have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan in the past two years. According to Pakistani officials, a repatriation center in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and another in Quetta, Balochistan, provides travel facilities to Afghans who voluntarily return to their country.
UNHCR also provides $375 to every Afghan who voluntarily returns to their country after entering Afghanistan. According to UN figures, they also facilitated more than 4.3 million voluntary returns over a 20-year period from 2002 to 2022.
The warning of the Pakistani authorities to the refugees is unprecedentedly severe this time. Even the interior minister of Pakistan has emphasized that the properties of illegal refugees and the businesses they own alone or in partnership with Pakistani citizens will be confiscated, and their Pakistani partners will be punished.
Ask for help from "Beporsed"
For those Afghans seeking specific information, "Beporsed" is here to help. You can reach our information center through WhatsApp (+93729807235), Facebook Messenger, or our website's Messenger to ask our online information desk officer for assistance.
For more information
For more information on immigration, resettlement, education and scholarship programs, and other opportunities available to Afghans worldwide, as well as details on the humanitarian services provided by international organizations in Afghanistan and procedures for obtaining civil documents from governmental institutions, please visit Beporsed's website and social media pages.