Pakistan government has started the process of eviction of illegal Afghan nationals from the country, as it starts implementing its recent announcement when it gave a deadline of November 1, 2023 for all illegal immigrants to leave the country or face arrest and deportation.
Police authorities have started raiding various Afghan refugee camps and other areas housing Afghan nationals, taking into custody hundreds of families who did not have any legal documentation to prove status of stay in Pakistan.
Authorities have also started raising down makeshift Afghan refugee camps in Islamabad and other major cities, leaving no other options for Afghans to gather their belongings and move towards the Torkham border to cross over into Afghanistan.
At least 16 trucks carrying a minimum of 20 families had reached the Torkham border on Thursday, while about 40 more families reached there on Friday.
“After completion of legal requirements, these families, which comprise about 1,000 people, will be allowed to enter Afghanistan,” said an official.
“These residents are from an Afghan refugee camp near Margalla Town in Islamabad, which was demolished by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the instructions of the federal government”, the official added.
Till now, at least 503 Afghan refugees have been sent to jail as they failed to provide any legal document as proof of their identity status in the country.
“At least 1,126 people were checked in various operations. Of them, 623 people were released on presentation of legal identification documents. However, 503 of them were sent to jail for not having the necessary documents”, said a police official in Islamabad.
“The 503 arrested people were presented before different courts under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act. After October 31, a crackdown will begin against all illegal residents,” he added.
Pakistan’s big decision to crackdown against illegal immigrants has not gone down well with the Afghan Taliban regime, which has termed the decision as “unacceptable”.
Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid questioned the behaviour of the Pakistan government, raising serious concerns over the expulsion plan of at least 1.7 million of unregistered Afghan immigrants, back to Afghanistan.
“The behaviour of Pakistan against Afghan refugees is unacceptable. The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan. Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them,” said Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid.
Sources said that while Afghan Taliban are not happy with Islamabad’s decision, there is a mutual consensus between both sides that any Afghan with no legal documents to reside in Pakistan should be sent back to his home country.
Experts said that Afghan Taliban have been taken by surprise by the actions Pakistan has taken after seeing no positive response from Kabul over the presence and movements across the border of militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“Pakistan has not been satisfied by the verbal commitments of the Afghan Taliban government as TTP militant infiltration has been attempted and is going on from the Afghan side. And with Pakistan Army in control over the proceedings in the country, expulsion threat of over 1.7 million Afghans in Pakistan, putting a tab on trade movements and items through the Torkham border, single document policy between the two countries and a massive crackdown and nabbing of illegal money laundering through Hawala and Hundi from Pakistan to Afghanistan, have certainly hit the Kabul administration severely,” said senior political analyst Kamran Yousaf.