10/06/2023 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Pakistani government officials announced this week that all Afghans currently residing illegally in Pakistan are to be forcibly deported in the coming weeks. This marks a boiling point in tensions between the neighboring nations.
“Illegally” appears to be defined here as “all Afghans who have not yet been granted refugee status,” but other reports are saying this could be taken a step further to include all Afghan residents, regardless of their legal standing. This announcement flies in the face of decades of history in which Pakistan has welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from their war-torn neighbor and has even been criticized by Taliban officials in Afghanistan as unacceptable.
The planned deportation of more than one million Afghan refugees comes at a time when violence at the border is escalating, which Pakistan blames on the asylum seekers. Their allegation is that a small number of Afghan refugees have been involved in intentionally violent attacks, including over a dozen suicide bombings, upon being granted asylum. Taliban officials have denied involvement in all border violence, claiming the responsibility for increased violence is due to Pakistani negligence towards its own citizens.
This decision has been largely condemned by the international community, calling the move irresponsible and dangerous, especially regarding refugees who fled in 2021 in fear for their lives at the hands of the new Taliban government. It is too early to tell whether international pressure will be enough to reverse this decision, but as of this week, over one million Afghans have been threatened with deportation if they have not voluntarily left the country by the beginning of November.
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