A total of 1.7 million unapproved Afghan asylum seekers in Pakistan have been told by the authorities to depart by November.
Tensions have risen as a result of a rise in terrorist strikes along the border between the two nations this year. Pakistan has attributed border crossing assaults to operators operating out of Afghanistan, a claim that the Taliban government has refuted.
Islamabad, though, has become more resentful as a result, and on Tuesday it promised a crackdown on “illegal” immigration.
At least 50 people were killed last week when a mosque was bombed in Mastung city, close to the Afghan border, during a religious festival.
When he issued the crackdown order on “illegal” Afghans on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti did not appear to make a clear reference to that incident or another in the region of Balochistan.
International law upholds the freedom to look for shelter in another nation. Particularly after the Taliban retook control in Afghanistan in 2021, Pakistan has taken in hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees.
According to the UN, 1.3 million Afghans are listed as refugees, while another 880,000 have been granted legal permission to stay.
However, Bugti asserted on Tuesday that an additional 1.7 million individuals are present in the nation “illegally”—a clear allusion to those who have not yet been granted refugee status. By the end of the month, he added, those individuals will have to leave the nation, either voluntarily or by forcible deportation.
“If they do not go… then all the law enforcement agencies in the provinces or federal government will be utilised to deport them,” he further said. He did not elaborate on the specifics of how such an operation would be carried out.
He also announced the formation of a task team to find and seize the private enterprises and assets of Afghans living in the nation “illegally.”
In response, Afghan officials in Pakistan said that both individuals with and without legal authorization to remain in Afghanistan had already been rounded up by local police.
More than 1,000 Afghans had been held in the previous two weeks, the embassy claimed in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Balochistan province, which is close to Pakistan’s border, has regularly been attacked by armed combatants, notably the Islamic State terrorist organisation and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban.
Earlier last month, an explosion in the same neighbourhood injured at least 11 people, among them a well-known Muslim leader.
Islamabad finally wanted all Afghans in the country to leave, including those with legal status and Pakistan resident cards, according to local state broadcaster APP. For its report, it used official sources.
More than half of the 24 suicide attacks near Pakistan’s border since January, according to Bugti, have been carried out by terrorists operating out of Afghanistan.
Beginning on November 1, he announced stricter entry requirements for Afghans, declaring that only travellers with valid passports and visas would be permitted entry.
Afghans have a tradition of using their national identity cards as a form of identification while entering Pakistan through land borders. There is a huge backlog of Afghans seeking entry documents to Pakistan, and the procedure of getting visas and passports has grown to take months.