Pakistan suspends deportation of Afghan migrants awaiting U.S. resettlement

Pakistan’s government has directed authorities to halt the arrest of Afghan nationals awaiting resettlement to the U.S., amid a broader crackdown on undocumented migrants.

Since Islamabad’s directive for 1.7 million Afghans—deemed illegal residents—to depart or face deportation, over 180,000 have returned to Afghanistan, according to border officials.

Human Rights Watch has cautioned that Afghans awaiting resettlement to nations including the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Canada are in jeopardy of deportation after their Pakistani visas lapsed following their flight from the Taliban regime.

Western countries are still resettling Afghan refugees following the Taliban’s resurgence two years prior, leaving numerous families in a state of uncertainty in Pakistan.

“The Embassy of America is sponsoring 1,150 Afghan nationals for relocation to the United States,” stated a letter from Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, dated Nov. 2 and reported by AFP.

The ministry’s communication implored that listed Afghan nationals not be detained “till further notice.”

This development follows a plea from the U.S. on Wednesday urging Pakistan to permit Afghans seeking asylum to pass through.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasized the need for Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan, to facilitate Afghans’ entry for international protection and collaborate with humanitarian groups for aid provision.

Millions of Afghans, including an estimated 600,000 since the Taliban’s August 2021 ascendancy, have sought refuge in Pakistan, escaping violent conflicts.

Pakistan attributes its deportation policy to national “welfare and security” interests, citing increased militant attacks it ascribes to Afghan-based operatives—a claim Taliban has rejected.

Figures released by the Taliban-run Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation reveal that an estimated 57,000 migrants have made their way back to Afghanistan from Pakistan since the start of Friday night.