Concerns grow over number of Afghans, including children, in Pakistan’s prisons

A photo shared by a Pakistani lawyer from Afghan children imprisoned at Karachi Central Prison. Dec. 2022.

Concerns are mounting over the number of Afghan children allegedly being arrested and thrown into prisons in Pakistan on a daily basis, where conditions are appalling.

According to a Pakistani journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, dozens of Afghan children are “brutally” imprisoned daily and that the Taliban needs to make a bigger effort to stop this from happening.

Sources also told Amu TV that 500 of at least 2,000 Afghan prisoners in one Karachi jail were recently released.

This comes after a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, Mohsin Dawar, said last week the treatment of Afghans by Pakistan’s police was “inhumane”.

“Unfortunately Afghans have been relegated to subhuman levels in this country for the last four decades. [I] strongly condemn these gross human rights violations. The government of Sindh should be ashamed of its repeated mistreatment of Afghan refugees,” Dawar said in a tweet.

A number of Pakistani human rights activists also condemned the country’s security forces’ treatment of Afghan refugees, urging Pakistan’s authorities to stop imprisoning Afghan asylum seekers and children.

A human rights activist, told Amu TV on condition of anonymity, that they have started efforts to save Afghan children from this situation, but it is necessary to send these children to a place of safety as soon as they are released.

She added that Afghan children are facing various issues including “severe hunger” in Pakistani prisons.

The delegation of Afghanistan in the United Nations has also said Pakistan’s treatment of Afghan children is a violation of their rights. Afghanistan’s representative to the United Nations Naseer Ahmad Faiq stated that the arrests were a clear violation of children’s rights.

“Seeking asylum is a human right. According to the 1951 Refugees Convention, the state parties shall not impose penalties on account of their illegal entry or presence on refugees who have come directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened,” Faiq said in a statement.

The statement called on Pakistani authorities to “immediately” release the children and “offer them needed protection according to its international obligations.”

The arrests also provoked strong reactions from social media users stating that Pakistan has violated human rights.

Afghan social media users said that despite Pakistan claiming to be a good neighbor, it still treats Afghans in an “inhumane” manner which is in violation of their human rights.

They also urged the Taliban to take action to release Afghan children from Pakistani jails.

This comes as photos of locked-up Afghan children and women were released by a number of human rights advocates on social media, which show the children being held in dreadful conditions.

The Taliban-run Afghan embassy in Pakistan also confirmed that hundreds of Afghan refugees, including women and children, are in prisons in the country where conditions are appalling.

The embassy stated that Pakistan’s authorities had pledged to release Afghan inmates, however, Islamabad did not put their promise in place.