Amnesty International to Pakistan: Stop deporting Afghan refugees

Amnesty International issued a stern plea to the Pakistani government on Wednesday, calling for an immediate halt to the deportation of undocumented Afghan migrants from the country.

In a statement, the organization expressed deep concern, citing the Pakistani government’s announcement on October 3, 2023, to deport unregistered Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan by November 1, a move deemed a blatant violation of international obligations.

Since November, authorities have escalated the crackdown on unregistered Afghan refugees, resulting in arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, and the separation of families, including minors, women, and the elderly, Amnesty International reported.

The organization said that access to recently established detention centers for deportation purposes has been denied.

“Homes of Afghan refugees have been demolished, and properties seized. It is imperative to demand that the Government of Pakistan immediately halt the continued detentions, deportations, and widespread harassment of Afghan refugees,” emphasized Amnesty International.

The organization expressed alarm over multiple arrests and detentions of political leaders and activists connected to a sit-in organized by traders and political parties protesting visa and passport conditions at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Despite the sit-in at the Chaman-Span-Boldak crossing lasting for 27 days and drawing thousands, it has received limited media attention.

The recent arrest of former Member of the National Assembly Ali Wazir on November 14 is the latest in a series of reprisals against political leaders and activists participating in the sit-in. Wazir, who has faced previous arrests for making speeches against state institutions, has been documented by Amnesty as being held on sedition charges for an extended period.

Amid reports of political leaders like Mohsin Dawar and Hidayat-ur-Rehman Baloch being barred from joining the sit-in and the brief abduction of Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Nasibullah Achakzai, Amnesty International calls on the Government of Pakistan to respect the freedom of expression and the right to protest for political leaders engaged in the sit-in.

Furthermore, Amnesty International urges the Government of Pakistan to refrain from detaining and arresting political leaders and activists as a means to discourage them from engaging in peaceful protests.