Pakistan Cracks Down on Illegal Migrants: Half a Million Afghans Forced to Leave, Says Minister

December 10, 2023 | by b1og.net


In a recent crackdown on illegal migrants, Pakistan has seen nearly half a million Afghans forced to leave the country, according to their caretaker interior minister. Over the past two months, these Afghans, who were living in Pakistan without proper documentation, have returned home as part of the government’s efforts to address the issue of foreigners residing in the country illegally. While the campaign is not specifically targeting Afghans, they make up the majority of the affected population. The expulsions have strained relations with Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration, and have drawn criticism from human rights activists and U.N. officials. The sudden change in policy has also caused panic among the registered Afghan population in Pakistan.

Pakistan Cracks Down on Illegal Migrants: Half a Million Afghans Forced to Leave, Says Minister

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Pakistan Cracks Down on Illegal Migrants

Half a Million Afghans Forced to Leave, Says Minister

Pakistan’s government has implemented a crackdown on illegal migrants, resulting in nearly 500,000 Afghans being forced to leave the country, according to Pakistan’s caretaker Interior Minister, Sarfraz Bugti. This ongoing campaign aims to address the issue of foreigners residing in Pakistan without proper documentation. Although the crackdown is not specifically targeted at Afghans, they make up the majority of undocumented migrants in the country.



Pakistan’s Crackdown on Illegal Migrants

The crackdown on illegal migrants in Pakistan began two months ago as part of a nationwide effort by the government. This initiative seeks to address the presence of undocumented foreigners living in the country. While it is not directed solely at Afghan migrants, they form the largest group of foreign nationals in Pakistan.

Number of Afghans Living in Pakistan

For decades, Pakistan has hosted a significant number of Afghan refugees, with approximately 1.7 million Afghans seeking refuge after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. Additionally, over half a million people fled Afghanistan in 2021 when the Taliban regained power after the U.S. and NATO withdrawal.

Reasons for Afghans Fleeing Afghanistan

The recent influx of Afghan migrants leaving Pakistan and returning to Afghanistan can be attributed to various factors. Many are likely seeking safety and stability in a time of political turmoil and insecurity in their home country. The Taliban’s takeover and subsequent governance have caused significant apprehension among Afghan citizens, leading them to seek refuge elsewhere.

Start of the Crackdown

The crackdown on illegal migrants in Pakistan commenced two months ago, aiming to deal with the issue of undocumented foreigners residing within the country. The government insists that this campaign is not aimed specifically at Afghans but is a broader attempt to address illegal migration.


Number of Afghans Who Have Returned Home

According to Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti, over the past two months, more than 482,000 Afghans have returned to their home country. This significant number reflects the impact of Pakistan’s crackdown on illegal migrants, as undocumented Afghans face expulsion if discovered by authorities.

Percentage of Voluntary Return

Out of the 482,000 Afghans who have returned home, approximately 90% did so voluntarily. This statistic suggests that many undocumented Afghan migrants living in Pakistan recognized the need to comply with the government’s crackdown and chose to return home willingly.


Deportation of Afghans Involved in Politics

As part of the crackdown, Pakistan has decided to deport ten Afghans who were legally living in the country but involved in political activities. The Pakistani government emphasizes that only citizens are permitted to engage in political activities within the country. As a result, any foreigner found participating in such activities will be immediately deported. The ten individuals being deported remain unnamed, and no further details about their political involvement have been disclosed.

Pakistan’s Policy Change

Change in Policy Regarding Afghan Refugees

Pakistan’s recent crackdown on illegal migrants represents a policy shift towards Afghan refugees residing in the country. While Pakistan has long been a host to millions of Afghan migrants, the evolving circumstances have led to a reassessment of their presence. Authorities argue that every Afghan refugee, including those with proper documentation, will eventually be required to return to Afghanistan as Pakistan cannot continue hosting them indefinitely.

Impact on Relations with Taliban-Led Administration

Pakistan’s change in policy and subsequent crackdown on undocumented Afghan migrants have strained relations with the Taliban-led administration in Afghanistan. The Taliban government had requested more time for Afghans to arrange their return. However, Pakistan’s refusal to grant additional time has resulted in tensions between the two nations.

Concerns Among Registered Afghans in Pakistan

The remarks made by Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti regarding the deportation of undocumented Afghans have caused distress among the nearly 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan. The uncertainty surrounding the further implementation of the crackdown and its potential impact on registered refugees has engendered anxiety within this population.

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Visit of U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan

Thomas West’s Visit to Pakistan

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, recently visited Pakistan amidst the ongoing crackdown on illegal migrants. His visit aimed to discuss various issues, including the drive against undocumented Afghans, with Pakistani officials. The presence of high-level U.S. representatives underscores the importance of finding a coordinated approach to address the challenges posed by migration.

Discussion with Foreign Minister Jillani

During his visit, Thomas West held discussions with Pakistan’s caretaker Foreign Minister, Jalil Abbas Jillani. The meeting covered a range of topics, with a specific focus on the ongoing efforts to address the issue of undocumented Afghans residing in Pakistan. Both sides would likely explore ways to advance cooperation and alleviate concerns arising from the situation.

Issue of Undocumented Afghans

Undocumented Afghans have become a central concern in the discussions between U.S. Special Representative Thomas West and Pakistani officials. The forced expulsion of these individuals has garnered criticism from human rights activists, U.N. officials, and other international actors. Calls have been made urging Pakistan to reconsider its policy on forced expulsions and find a more humanitarian approach.

Criticism and Humanitarian Aid

Criticism of Forced Expulsion

Pakistan’s policy of forced expulsion for undocumented Afghans has faced widespread criticism from various quarters. Human rights activists argue that such measures disregard the vulnerabilities and security risks faced by Afghan citizens. The forcible removal of undocumented migrants is seen as a violation of human rights principles, leading to concerns over their welfare and safety upon returning to Afghanistan.

Appeals to Pakistan to Reconsider

In light of the criticism received, Pakistan has been urged by multiple parties, including international aid groups and human rights organizations, to reconsider its policy on forced expulsions. Calls have been made for the Pakistani government to adopt a more compassionate and understanding approach towards undocumented Afghan migrants, taking into account the challenges and dangers they might face upon returning to their home country.

International Aid Groups and U.N.’s Role

International aid groups, along with the United Nations, have been actively involved in providing assistance and support to those returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan. These organizations play a crucial role in addressing the humanitarian needs of the returnees, ensuring access to healthcare, nutrition, and other essential services. By collaborating with the Taliban-led administration, international aid groups and the U.N. can contribute to a more coordinated and effective response to the returnees’ needs.

In conclusion, Pakistan’s recent crackdown on illegal migrants, particularly targeting undocumented Afghans, has resulted in a significant number of individuals returning to Afghanistan. The change in policy and subsequent expulsions have raised concerns among registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan and strained relations with the Taliban-led administration. While criticism has been directed towards Pakistan’s forced expulsions, international aid groups and the U.N. continue to provide humanitarian support to the returnees, recognizing the need for a coordinated and compassionate approach in addressing the challenges posed by migration.

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