In just under 24 hours, Pakistan is gearing up to expel all undocumented Afghan migrants back to their country. While uprooting his entire life, Muhammed Rahim, an Afghan migrant, boards a bus from Karachi to the Afghan border.
The 35-year-old Afghab nation said they would have lived here their entire lives without being sent back. Rahim is married to a Pakistani national and raises his Pakistan-born children in the country. Unfortunately, there are no documents identifying him as a Pakistani citizen.
The Taliban Administration of Afghanistan states that around 60,000 Afghan nationals have retired to the country between September 23 and October 22. In early October, Pakistan declared that it would be expelling all undocumented migrants before November 1.
According to the Taliban refugee ministry, the daily number of refugee returnees is three times higher than before. Abdul Mutaleb Haqqani, a spokesperson, has confirmed these figures.
Sohrab-Goth, the largest Afghani settlement near Karachi, Pakistan, saw an expulsion of migrants leaving the region. Azizullah, a bus operator, began providing extra services to assist the mass migration. Lines began to form before competitor buses could reach the bus stop.
He stated that previously, he would shuttle only one bus between the two borders. However, he is currently running four to five buses daily.
Reuters, a news media agency, interviewed seven refugee families in Sohrab-Goth. They also interacted with Taliban and Pakistani officials and community leaders. They have all stated that Islamabad’s threat of a crackdown on undocumented migrants is driving those with documents out of the country as well.
The Pakistani Interior Ministry was unavailable for comment. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, states that the expulsion of migrants is by international norms. She says, “Pakistan’s record of the last forty years of hosting millions of Afghan brothers and sisters speaks for itself.”
Rise In Returning Migrants
In early September, the average number of migrants crossing the border was 300. After Paksitan’s November 1 deadline, the number has drastically risen to 4000.
Balochistan’s information states they will open up three more border crossings to accommodate the heavy traffic. Balochistan is a region bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Sarfaraz Bugti, the Federal Interior Minister, states that law officials are legally allowed to remove individuals who do not have a justification for being there.
Widespread Fear and Desperation Among The Migrants
As per United Nations sources, Pakistan has plans in place to ensure the safety of women and children forced to leave. The Taliban’s tight control over female employment has led to a decrease in female NGO workers and fewer employment opportunities.
UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, claims that a total of 14,700 documented Afghans had left Pakistan as of October 18, 2023. This number is double the 6,039 Afghans from the previous year.
Pakistan stated that they will not expel Afghans holding current or expired documents. While this is true, police harassment has increased since the announcement.
It has led to families fearing for their undocumented members. Thus, established Afghans are fleeing Pakistan to ensure their safety.
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