Islamabad issues ultimatum to illegal migrants
The clock is ticking and life on borrowed time is ending for Pakistan’s estimated 1.7 million illegal Afghan immigrants. According to Islamabad’s decision, all Afghans who do not have residence documents must return to Afghanistan on November 1. Pakistan’s interior minister said those who refuse to comply with the order will be placed in “detention centers” and then deported.
The paradox is that many of these unfortunate people were born in Pakistan and have Pakistani spouses and children. Islamabad’s hardening policy comes as Islamist militants based in both countries increasingly attack Pakistani military and police. According to Reuters, November 1 is the deadline for all undocumented migrants to leave Pakistan.
“We wouldn’t have left if they hadn’t expelled us,” says the 35-year-old Afghan man, who married a Pakistani woman, had children and lived in Karachi, a huge city by the sea. The Taliban government (banned in Russia) reported that after Islamabad announced instructions calling for the deportation of people, approximately 60,000 of them have already returned. According to Afghan community leaders and lawyers, Islamabad’s threat and subsequent government pressure on refugees caused a split in families and forced even those Afghans whose documents were in order to leave.
However, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the expulsion plan was in line with international norms and principles. “Our track record over the past 40 years, when we have hosted Afghan brothers and sisters, speaks for itself,” the diplomat emphasized. According to Islamabad, there are more than 4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, about 1.7 million undocumented. Many took refuge there after the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in 2021. But a large number have been in the neighboring country since the Soviet Union sent its “limited contingent” of troops into Afghanistan in 1979.
UN organizations have called on Islamabad to delay the deportation. Otherwise, they pointed out, there would be a “human rights catastrophe.” These organizations are especially alarmed that former Kabul officials who fled after the Taliban seized power will be subject to forced deportation. There is a great risk that these people will be arrested and tortured, say international organizations dealing with migrants.
The authorities’ threat of deportation did not come out of nowhere. Militants have carried out attacks this year that Islamabad says involved Afghans. As reported by the AP agency, Islamabad accuses the Taliban administration in Kabul of providing shelter to militants who cross the 2,611-kilometer border with Pakistan, launch attacks and then return.
The New York Times also writes that the deportation order is the result of escalating hostility between the Pakistani government and Taliban authorities amid incursions by militants operating in both countries. Be that as it may, the owners of the premises began to evict the Afghan guests, fearing large fines. And entrepreneurs are firing Afghan workers who do not have documents. Police conducted raids in areas where people from Afghanistan live. Those who did not have the necessary papers were detained. Although human rights groups condemned Pakistan’s actions, he said there would be no extension of the refugees’ stay in the country. “After November 1, there will be no compromise on illegal immigrants,” said Sarfraz Bukti, Pakistan’s caretaker interior minister.
The fruits of this policy can be seen at the crossing point from Pakistan to the Afghan province of Nangarhar. There are trucks with the belongings of the displaced. And their owners lie under tents, often hungry, waiting for aid groups to give them small benefits.
In a conversation with NG, Omar Nessar, director of the Center for the Study of Afghanistan at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted: “Pakistan used to be quite loyal to Afghan refugees, but now it has taken a hard line. I guess the idea is to put pressure on Kabul. After all, relations with him are developing in a completely different way than Islamabad previously hoped. Secondly, Pakistan wants to send a signal to the international community, to show that it needs money to support refugees. I think the expulsion process will be stopped when Pakistan partially achieves its goals.”
Source : ng.ru