Pakistan has announced plans to deport all illegal Afghan refugees by January 2024, according to Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai. During a press conference in Quetta, Achakzai emphasized the caretaker government’s commitment to expel illegal Afghan immigrants, stating that a timeframe for repatriating the remaining individuals would be announced thereafter.
Achakzai reiterated concerns about militants using Afghan territory as a base to plot attacks in Pakistan. He highlighted the importance of cooperation with the Taliban administration in Kabul, urging Afghanistan to respond positively by handing over wanted terrorists.
The minister expressed Pakistan’s condemnation of terrorism worldwide and warned against actions that could discredit Pakistani institutions, asserting that any such actions would receive a fitting response.
The directive to deport individuals residing in Pakistan without legal status was issued in October, with a voluntary departure deadline set for November 1. Notably, nearly 400,000 Afghan refugees have reportedly returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan in the past two months, according to Abdul Jabar Takhari, the Taliban’s consul in Karachi.
Taliban administration dismissed the notion
In response to Pakistan’s allegations, the Taliban administration dismissed the notion that Afghan soil is being used to plan attacks on Pakistan. They asserted that Afghanistan should not be held responsible for security failures in their country.
However, the mass return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan is expected to worsen Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis, as reported by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The UN Refugee Agency highlighted the lack of employment opportunities and adequate shelter for those being deported from Pakistan. This influx of returnees, coinciding with the approaching harsh winter season, poses a significant challenge for Afghanistan, placing additional strain on limited resources and aid efforts.
As the situation unfolds, the international community remains attentive to the complex dynamics between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with concerns about the humanitarian impact of mass deportations and the ongoing security challenges in the region.