As the midnight deadline grows closer, thousands of Afghan refugees have set their sights on crossing the Pakistan border before November 1 or face deportation. With the time frame reaching its endpoint, the world may witness a crisis as Mass deportation is on the cards.
Mass Deportation looms in Pakistan
According to Reuters, Pakistan has been home to more than 4 million Afghan refugees and immigrants. From this total number, more than 1.7 million are undocumented. The situation arose after Pakistan’s Interior Ministry declared on October 3 that all migrants living in Pakistan without legal footing had 28 days to leave voluntarily or face deportation.
The current state of affairs pertains to the arrest of undocumented refugees residing in Pakistan after November 1 and deporting them. The Afghan population that lives in Pakistan consists of those who fled the former country when the Taliban retook administration in 2021. Others have been residents of Pakistan for decades. Though the deadline of the anti-migrant crackdown focuses on all undocumented foreigners, it affects the Afghans as they represent a high percentage of the total immigrants. On Tuesday, more than 20,000 gathered at the Pakistan border to cross the boundary before the deadline befell upon them. Since the announcement from the Ministry, more than 100,000 have already fled the nation.
Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti, in a video statement, said that only those people who are downright illegal would be required to leave Pakistan. The government said that the deportations were to protect the nation’s welfare and security as there was a swift rise in attacks, which the authorities blamed on the Afghan militants.
The refugees remain in a quandary
The plight of refugees is jarring. They live in fear and dilemma as each hour passes. The anti-migration crackdown came unprecedented, stirring the lives of many people upside down. Zarmina Rafiee, a women’s rights activist who has been working with the Afghan Red Crescent Society in Afghanistan, described the mental and emotional issues of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan who are facing possible deportation. She said that opportunities for Afghan refugees, especially children, are closing down, and people aren’t able to shop freely due to the fear of deportation. People on the move to cross the border face challenges on the road.
International groups call for an ideal solution
The situation has gained the attention of several International humanitarian groups. The Taliban government in Afghanistan Their defence minister, Mullah Yaqoob, said that Pakistan’s policy is cruel and barbaric. Amnesty International, in a statement, voiced its disagreement with the decision of the Pakistani government. They strongly reiterated their call to the authorities to reverse the decision of forced deporting of unregistered Afghan refugees. Amnesty International also called for the international community to financially support Pakistan in hosting the Afghan refugees. The organization asked the international community to share the responsibility for their protection. Emphasizing the risks women, children, activists, and government officials face.
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Pakistan of resorting to threats, abuse, and detention to urge Afghan migrants without legal status to return to Afghanistan. As reported by The Times of India, western embassies and the UN have put pressure on Pakistan to identify and protect Afghans at risk of persecution at home. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a leading rights group, has called on the authorities to recant its decision, which could trigger a humanitarian crisis.
The Pakistan perspective on the issue
Interior Minister of Pakistan Sarfraz Bugti on Tuesday announced that the government would start a crackdown on undocumented immigrants from November 2. Bugti urged that there was a need to strengthen counter-terrorism departments due to the attacks in Pakistan over the past few months allegedly by Afghan nationals, according to the Pakistan government. The Interior Minister, during a press conference in Islamabad, said that the welfare and security of Pakistan are predominant for them before any other country and its policies. He added that the task force would also commence proceedings to crack down on illegal identity cards and passports to reduce atrocities.