Kabul: In a recent diplomatic meeting between Taliban Minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi and Pakistan Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, the issue of the mass deportation of Afghan refugees took center stage, raising international concerns over human rights and regional stability.
Afghanistan’s embassy released a statement outlining Azizi’s expression of worry about Pakistan expelling thousands of Afghan citizens, who, after decades of building lives in Pakistan, now face deportation without the ability to transfer cash and assets back to their homeland. The move follows Pakistan’s decision to expel over a million undocumented Afghans, citing the Taliban-led administration’s unwillingness to address armed fighters using Afghanistan as a base for attacks in Pakistan.
The meeting emphasized bilateral trade and the smooth transfer of Afghan refugees’ properties to Afghanistan. However, returning Afghan citizens reported facing restrictions on transferring cash and property from Pakistan, where many had established businesses and homes over the years.
Pakistan initiated the expulsion of all undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of Afghans, starting November 1, citing security reasons despite calls to reconsider from the United Nations, rights groups, and Western embassies. With approximately 4.4 million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, 1.7 million without valid documents, the situation has escalated.
To expedite the repatriation process, Pakistan opened three new border crossings in Balochistan province, in addition to the main crossing in Chaman district. The number of daily border crossings rose from about 300 to 15,000 after the crackdown, leading to the departure of over 300,000 Afghan refugees.
International aid agencies have documented chaotic scenes among returnees, facing dire conditions with limited resources as winter sets in. Many find shelter in crowded facilities near the border operated by NGOs and Taliban authorities, prompting global concern.
Amnesty International has urged Pakistan to halt deportations immediately, highlighting police raids, home demolitions, and arbitrary detentions without due process. Reports indicate that detainees are denied access to legal representation and communication with family members, leaving loved ones in the dark about their whereabouts.
Balochistan authorities reported the arrest of over 1,500 Afghans without valid documents, indicating a heightened crackdown. Human rights activists, including Moniza Kakar in Karachi, have raised alarms about midnight raids on Afghan homes, detaining families, including women and children. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Hina Jilani emphasized the lack of a comprehensive mechanism in Pakistan to handle refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants without proper documentation, despite hosting Afghans for four decades.
In a separate incident, an Afghan man, Asif Khan, is under investigation for allegedly killing his Pakistani wife, Ameena Bibi, because she refused to relocate to Afghanistan with him. The tragic incident unfolded in Nowshera, where the suspect reportedly left the country with his four children.
As the international community closely monitors the unfolding situation, the deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan has become a focal point of concern, emphasizing the need for a coordinated and humane approach to address the complexities surrounding migration, security, and human rights in the region.