Pakistan stands firm on expelling undocumented migrants amid concerns from Afghan immigrants

Pakistani police forces. File photo.

In the face of criticism from Afghan immigrants over alleged “mistreatment” by Pakistani police following a deadline for the expulsion of undocumented migrants, Pakistan’s acting foreign minister, Jalil Abbas Jilani, reaffirmed on Sunday the country’s commitment to enforcing the decision.

During a press conference on Sunday evening, Jilani emphasized that individuals with valid legal documents could continue living in Pakistan. He clarified, “This decision applies to all individuals residing illegally in Pakistan. Anyone with legal residency or registration cards, regardless of their country of origin, will be permitted to stay in Pakistan.”

However, many Afghan migrants in Pakistan have reported different experiences with the treatment received from the Pakistani government and law enforcement. Some claim that, despite possessing legal documents, they face harassment from Pakistani police.

Moreover, according to these immigrants, certain groups are exploiting the name of the police to harass and assault Afghan immigrants in Pakistan.

“In Peshawar, they visit the houses of many Afghans, claiming to be the police, and make unwarranted intrusions, assault them, and extort money,” disclosed Mina Akbari, an Afghan immigrant in Pakistan.

“Despite having legal documentation, all Afghans living here are grappling with psychological stress, exacerbated by these announcements and the reactions of the Pakistani media,” observed Murtaza Safa, a journalist in exile in Pakistan.

A significant number of immigrants in Pakistan are now pinning their hopes on human rights organizations and the United Nations to persuade the Pakistani government to streamline the visa distribution process for Afghan citizens who have sought refuge in Pakistan due to their fear of the Taliban and have no means to return.

“For two years, our countrymen have endured one-sided suffering, and the Pakistani government’s decision has only added to our people’s concerns. Human rights organizations and the United Nations urgently need to engage with the Pakistani government to facilitate visas and expedite case processing,” urged Sanam Kabiri, a human rights activist in exile in Pakistan.

According to reports from immigration agencies, the number of Afghan immigrants has surged with the resurgence of the Taliban. Many of these immigrants have sought refuge in neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan.

Presently, Afghan immigrants are facing challenging circumstances in both Iran and Pakistan.