Rights watchdog calls on Pakistan to stop ‘harassing and arresting’ Afghanistan’s refugees

Amnesty International has raised concerns over the “arbitrary detentions” and the threat of deportation faced by refugees from Afghanistan in Pakistan.

The organization said many of these refugees, who fled to Pakistan due to fear of persecution by the Taliban, are being subjected to waves of arbitrary detentions, arrests, and the threat of deportation.

Amnesty International said that “Afghan refugees are caught in an impossible situation, unable to return home or [live] permanently in Pakistan.”

It called on the Pakistani government to stop the “arbitrary arresting and harassing [of] Afghan refugees.”

Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) recently conducted a crackdown on “illegal Afghan residents” in Islamabad, resulting in the arrest of 800 individuals.

The operation took place in various areas around the federal capital, including Bhara Kahu, Tarnol, Mehrabadian, Golra, and Shams Colony.

According to reports, approximately half of those detained were released after verifying their legal residency status in Pakistan.

The remaining 375 individuals, who lacked proper documentation, are expected to be deported.

The crackdown on people from Afghanistan began days after Pakistan’s cabinet made a decision to deport all undocumented refugees from Afghanistan.

According to the Tribune, about 400,000 people from Afghanistan have crossed into Pakistan illegally since the Taliban swept to power in August 2021.

The report added that an additional 700,000 Afghans were identified as residing in Pakistan without proper legal status.

Pakistan’s cabinet has authorized relevant authorities to facilitate the deportation of these 1.1 million refugees who do not have visas or other permits to live in Pakistan.

This crackdown comes amid ongoing tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan, particularly regarding the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Islamabad has expressed frustration over the Taliban’s reluctance to crack down on the TTP, leading to increased pressure on Afghan authorities.