Calls to halt forced deportation of Afghan migrants by Pakistan

Various political and civil groups in Pakistan have jointly petitioned the country’s Human Rights Commission, urging an end to the forced deportation of Afghan migrants. This move comes in response to recent deportations and the looming deadline for undocumented migrants in Pakistan.

The Express Tribune reported that members of these political and civil organizations submitted their appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, emphasizing that the decision to deport refugees contradicts Pakistan’s long-standing four-decade policy of supporting refugees.

Afghan immigrants currently residing in Pakistan have raised concerns about the arrest of individuals with valid legal documents. The deadline for asylum seekers to leave the country is fast approaching, with only four days remaining until November 1, when forced deportations are set to begin.

A Pakistani delegation, representing a range of political and civil groups, has taken the initiative to implore the National Human Rights Commission to reconsider this decision. Parties and movements emphasized in their letter that imposing a deadline for refugees and subsequent deportations contradicts Pakistan’s decades-old refugee support policy.

The Express Tribune reported that the delegation has also called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to intervene and prevent the deportation of Afghan refugees.

Baqir Ahmadi, an activist for immigrant affairs, highlighted the precarious situation faced by Afghan refugees, who sought refuge in Pakistan after the events of August 15, 2021, due to reprisals and security threats. Returning them to Afghanistan could lead to dire consequences and is met with widespread dissatisfaction. Human rights organizations worldwide have expressed concerns about forced deportations of asylum seekers.

Recent reports revealed that on Wednesday night, Pakistani authorities arrested 77 Afghan citizens who possessed valid visas and legal documents, deporting them from the Torkham border crossing. The process was marred by controversy, and Afghan immigrants in Pakistan have reported incidents of harassment and arrest despite having legal documentation.

Hamed Siddiqui, an Afghan immigrant in Pakistan, emphasized that many Afghan refugees sought shelter in neighboring countries like Iran and Pakistan to escape life-threatening situations after the fall of the Afghan government. Their forced return places their lives at risk and exposes them to numerous dangers.

In response to mounting concerns, the Taliban announced the formation of a commission led by Abdul Salam Hanafi, consisting of 31 members and tasked with addressing refugee and migrant deportations. However, specific details about the commission’s mandate and the issues it will address remain undisclosed.