Amid Pakistani expulsion threats, Afghan refugees return home
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1 month ago
BORDER CRISES HAVE BEEN IN THE HEADLINES OF LATE. BUT THEY ARE NOT UNIQUE TO THE UNITED STATES — OR EVEN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.
AN ONGOING CRISIS HAS BEEN GROWING ALONG THE BORDERS OF AFGHANISTAN FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS IN REGION BESET BY CONFLICT, INSTABILITY AND POLITICAL SHIFTS
IT IS THE WORLD’S MOST EXTENSIVE REFUGEE CRISIS WITH 8-POINT-2 MILLION AFGHANS NOW LIVING IN NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES, ACCORDING TO THE U-N.
NEARLY 600-THOUSAND AFGHANS HAVE SOUGHT ASYLUM IN NEIGHBORING PAKISTAN AFTER THE TALIBAN TAKEOVER IN 20-21. TOTALING AN ESTIMATED 1.7 MILLION UNREGISTERED AFGHANS IN THE COUNTRY.
AND NOW THE GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN IS TELLING THE REFUGEES IT’S TIME TO LEAVE — OR ELSE.
[QURBAN NAZAR | AFGHAN REFUGEE]
“If we are forced to leave Pakistan, we will leave. But it is our right to remain in Pakistan, under Islamic law as well as under democratic norms.Forty years is a very long time. There should be justice. History should be seen (considered). Islamic history should be seen. There is no precedent of expelling people who have been living for 40 years in a country.”
AS A RESULT OF AN EXTENSIVE REFUGEE POPULATION, SECURITY PROBLEMS AND A GROWING UNAUTHORIZED MIGRANT SITUATION – PAKISTAN’S INTERIM INTERIOR MINISTER ISSUED A FINAL WARNING, THURSDAY, INSTRUCTING ALL UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS TO DEPART VOLUNTARILY BY NOVEMBER FIRST, OR FACE FORCIBLE REMOVAL.
PAKISTANI OFFICIALS HAVE SPECIFIED THAT THE NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN DOES NOT TARGET LEGALLY REGISTERED AFGHAN REFUGEES OR INDIVIDUALS HOLDING AFGHAN CITIZENSHIP CARDS. THIS MARKS THE GOVERNMENT’S FIRST SIGNIFICANT CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.
[SARFARAZ BUGTI, CARETAKER INTERIOR MINISTER]
“I am warning those people who are living here illegally that they should leave voluntarily before the 01 Nov. deadline, before we start deporting them forcefully. We have done our geofencing to work out where they are living, we have identified the areas, and we know in which part of metropolitan cities of Pakistan they are living, which town of Pakistan they are in, which villages they are in. We have complete details of each and every thing.”
PROTESTS HAVE BROKEN OUT IN BORDER CITIES BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES, AS PAKISTANI OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPORTATION CENTERS.
A LOCAL RELIGIOUS PARTY LEADER MULVI MUHAMMAD YOUSAF EXPRESSED CONCERNS THAT THE NEW POLICIES ARE IMPACTING LOCAL BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYMENT, AND HE CALLED ON THE GOVERNMENT TO RECONSIDER ITS DECISIONS.
[MULVI MUHAMMAD YOUSAF | LOCAL RELIGIOUS PARTY LEADER]
“Today we are protesting against the government’s recent deportation policy and also the policy about cross border people living both sides of the border from Chaman to Kandahar. This affects the local’s business and employment so our demand is the government should reconsider this policy”
PAKISTAN’S INITIAL ANNOUNCEMENT WAS PROMPTED BY A GOVERNMENT REVIEW OF AFGHAN NATIONALS’ ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN 14 SUICIDE BOMBINGS THIS YEAR, THE MOST RECENT KILLING AT LEAST 57 PEOPLE.
U-N AND U-S LEADERS HAVE CALLED ON PAKISTAN OFFICIALS TO UPHOLD THEIR OBLIGATIONS TO HELP REFUGEES AND ASYLUM-SEEKERS.
[Mathew Miller | U.S. State Department spokesperson]
“We strongly encourage Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan, to allow entry for Afghans seeking international protection, and to coordinate with international humanitarian organizations such as UNHCR and IOM to provide humanitarian assistance.”
TALIBAN LEADERS HAVE ALSO REQUESTED PAKISTAN TO HALT AFGHAN EXPULSIONS, HOWEVER THEY HAVE SET UP SPECIAL BORDER CAMPS TO PROVIDE IMMEDIATE SUPPORT FOR RETURNING AFGHAN FAMILIES.
OFFICIAL SOURCES SAID THAT MORE THAN 52-THOUSAND MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN HAD RETURNED TO AFGHANISTAN AS THE NOVEMBER FIRST DEADLINE LOOMS.