Pakistani senator alleges ‘widespread border bribes’ from Afghan immigrants

In a recent revelation, Pakistani Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan accused Pakistani border guards of accepting bribes averaging 100,000 Pakistani rupees from hundreds of thousands of Afghan immigrants who entered the country over the past two years after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Speaking at a senate gathering, Khan shared findings from his border visit, noting that over 600,000 Afghans had entered Pakistan through various border crossings since August 2021. He criticized Pakistan’s foreign policy on the matter, stating that it has strained relationships with allies.

“Each person paid 100,000 (Pakistani rupees). How much people’s money has been wasted?” Khan exclaimed. “We allowed them to enter. Our foreign policy should build friendships, not anger our allies.”

These remarks follow the Pakistani government’s ongoing deportation of over 287,000 undocumented Afghan migrants in the past two weeks, as reported by the United Nations.

A coalition of Afghan civil organizations, including women, students, elders, human rights defenders, and media, issued a statement on Tuesday urging the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to intervene and prevent the detention and deportation of migrants. They claim Pakistan’s actions violate agreements and international treaties.

“Pakistan’s decision violates the tripartite agreement of Pakistan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Afghanistan, and it also violates international treaties ratified by Pakistan,” the letter mentioned.

In response to the mass deportations, temporary camps have been established, including in Kabul City and Herat City, to accommodate returnees. Some migrants expressed distress, stating they were not given a chance to collect their belongings before leaving Pakistan.

 “All our belongings were left there. Well, it was the last deadline and the Afghans had to leave Pakistan. We left everything there and only brought 50,000 Pakistani rupees with us,” explained Adam Khan, a returnee from Pakistan, who has resettled at Herat camp.

“Our deadline was over. We left our place and life there and left,” another returnee, Faqir Mohammad, lamented.

Addressing reporters in Herat, Hayatullah Muhajir Farahi, the Taliban’s deputy minister of information who has also worked in a key position in Herat, said the country lacks the capacity and resources to welcome large number of immigrants.

“This is really against all international principles and laws and good neighbourliness,” Farahi said, pointing at the mass deportations from Pakistan.

He added: “Afghanistan does not have the resources to welcome so many migrants this winter. I have been given the responsibility of the temporary accommodation committee. I traveled to several provinces, now I came to Herat province to investigate the problems facing the people.”

Amnesty International, in a statement on Tuesday, reiterated its call for the Pakistani government to halt the arrest, prosecution, and deportation of Afghan immigrants.