South Asia

Former Pakistani FM urges nuanced approach in Afghan migrants’ deportation

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, called for a nuanced approach to the expulsion of undocumented Afghan immigrants, distinguishing between “civilians and terrorists.”

Speaking in Karachi, Bhutto-Zardari, who is also the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, stressed the need for firm action against banned groups such as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan but advised against using similar methods on civilians.

“We must differentiate between people and terrorists in any policy,” Bhutto-Zardari said. He expressed concerns over the current government’s unclear policy on undocumented Afghan repatriation.

Pakistan had set a Nov. 1 deadline for illegal migrants, including 1.7 million undocumented Afghans, to leave voluntarily. However, according to Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai, the government has now extended this to include registered Afghan migrants.

The Senate saw divisions over the caretaker government’s decision. Norway, expressing worries about the humanitarian impact, urged Pakistan to establish effective mechanisms to identify and protect vulnerable individuals seeking safety.

Responding to the criticism, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, stated that the country’s measures comply with international laws and reflect Pakistan’s enforcement of its own regulations, similar to those in other countries, including the U.S.

Baloch also mentioned ongoing discussions with various nations, including the U.S., about the settlement of Afghan individuals in third countries.

Figures by Pakistani authorities show that over 300,000 Afghan migrants have been deported from Pakistan since November 1.