Taliban governor equates Pakistan and Iran to Israel over ‘cruel’ treatment of refugees

The Taliban’s governor for Kabul, Mohammad Qasim Khalid, criticized neighboring countries on Tuesday over their ill-treatment of refugees from Afghanistan and likened Pakistan and Iran governments to that of Israel.

He implied the two countries were as oppressive and cruel towards migrants from Afghanistan as Israel was towards Palestinians.

Speaking at a gathering in Kabul, he called on Tehran and Islamabad to stop “oppressing” and “harassing” migrants from Afghanistan.

“The governments of these two countries are similar to Israel. The oppression and cruelty which they impose on the Afghans, it is intolerable. We call on the people and Ulema (religious scholars) to advise their governments,” he said.

Pakistan and Iran have both warned they will scrutinize the resettlement process of refugees from Afghanistan. However, Islamabad has taken it a step further and said it will arrest and deport 1.7 million undocumented refugees from Afghanistan if they are still in the country by November 1. Afghanistan refugees in Pakistan have in turn complained about the treatment meted out to them by Pakistani police. They have said they are continually harassed and detained. According to them, police even arrest legal refugees who have all the necessary documents. They are then often made to pay bribes in order to secure their release.

Some of the refugees who were interviewed by Amu, said they are in a difficult situation and are too scared to leave their homes in fear of being arrested.

“We may even face returning back to the country. All of the refugees are facing this problem. I call on the Pakistan government and the international community to reconsider their decision,” said one refugee, Noorullah Sarwari.

After the fall of the republic government in August 2021, hundreds of thousands of Afghans sought refuge in neighboring countries, particularly in Pakistan.

Hamid Behzad took his family of four to Pakistan last year. Behzad said he worked as a translator for a Spanish news agency and left the country in fear of the Taliban.

“It has been one year since we have been here. [Our] situation is deteriorating in Pakistan. They are expelling the Afghans from here. We are worried about what to do? If we return back to Kabul, our life is under threat because the Taliban are looking for us,” he said.

According to Pakistani officials, out of a total of 4.5 million refugees from Afghanistan, who are living in Pakistan, 1.7 million are illegal. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that around 600,000 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived in Pakistan since the collapse of the former government.