Pakistan is about to start its push to drive out 1.7 million migrants – a lot of them Afghans who fled the Taliban – regardless of criticism from human rights teams.
Hundreds of Afghans residing in Pakistan rushed to the border in vans and buses forward of the federal government’s Wednesday deadline for undocumented or unregistered overseas nationals to go away the nation.
The anti-migrant coverage was introduced final month by Pakistan’s caretaker authorities, which has threatened to round-up, detain and deport those that don’t go away voluntarily.
Islamabad has blamed Afghan migrants for an increase in armed assaults, primarily in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Balochistan provinces bordering Afghanistan.
Islamabad has additionally accused Kabul of turning a blind eye to Taliban-allied militants who discover shelter in Afghanistan, from the place they commute throughout the 2 nations’ shared 1,600-mile border to stage assaults in Pakistan – an accusation the Taliban have denied.
Nonetheless, the transfer to expel migrants has been strongly criticised by UN companies and human rights teams, in addition to the Taliban-led administration in Afghanistan.
The federal government says greater than 4 million overseas nationals stay in Pakistan – the overwhelming majority of them Afghans who sought refuge over the past 4 many years.
Of these, as many as 600,000 to 800,000 migrated in or after the Taliban regained energy in 2021, in response to Pakistan’s inside ministry.
It claims there are round 1.7 million undocumented migrants in Pakistan – and all have been instructed to go away the nation by 1 November.
The operation could be “prolonged and gradual”, Sarfraz Bugti, Pakistan’s caretaker inside minister, mentioned in a video assertion launched on Tuesday. He gave no additional element on the timeframe.
Mr Bugti denied refugees have been being deported and mentioned: “Solely those that are utterly unlawful will go away Pakistan.”
Nonetheless, the UN refugee company in Pakistan urged the federal government to guard these in danger from persecution.
“We’re asking the federal government to provide you with a complete system and… mechanism to handle and register individuals at quick threat of persecution if pressured to return,” Qaiser Khan Afridi, a spokesperson for the company, instructed Reuters information company.
“They can not return, they cannot return to Afghanistan as a result of their freedom or their life is perhaps in danger.”
Greater than 200,000 Afghans have returned dwelling because the coverage was introduced, in response to Pakistan’s authorities, whereas the Taliban say round 60,000 Afghan nationals have crossed the border.
Extra have headed there at the moment forward of the deadline, amongst them Mohammad Amin, who mentioned his father got here to Pakistan 40 years in the past.
“He died right here. My mom additionally died right here and their graves are in Pakistan,” mentioned Mr Amin, initially from Afghanistan’s japanese Nangarhar province.
“We’re going again at the moment as we by no means tried to register ourselves as refugees with the UN refugee company,” the 52-year-old mentioned.
One other Afghan nationwide who was born in Pakistan and married a Pakistani lady and raised his Pakistan-born youngsters in Karachi, however has no Pakistani paperwork, mentioned he and his household are additionally heading throughout the border.
“We would stay right here our entire life in the event that they did not ship us again,” mentioned the 35-year-old.