Pakistan police conduct door-to-door searches for undocumented Afghans

In the bustling southern port city of Karachi, home to hundreds of thousands of Afghans, police conducted extensive door-to-door searches on Tuesday in refugee settlements.

The operation, conducted in collaboration with officials from the national database authority, is part of Pakistan’s recent move to expel over a million undocumented refugees, predominantly Afghans, amidst heightened tensions with Kabul over allegations of harboring anti-Pakistan militants. Since October 1, over 370,000 Afghans have fled Pakistan.

In an area on the city’s outskirts, a sprawling slum settlement comprised of hundreds of small houses witnessed officials knocking on doors, requesting residents to furnish identification. This information was cross-checked using electronic tablets.

Notably, there was no resistance during the search, and the search parties did not resort to the use of force. Documents of those whose identification checked out were promptly returned.

Concerns over deportation have driven thousands of Afghans underground in Pakistan, with many expressing fears for their lives upon returning to Afghanistan, now under the rule of the Islamist Taliban following the abrupt withdrawal of U.S.-led western forces in 2021.

While Pakistan maintains that documented refugees are exempt from expulsion, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that even those with proper documentation are being targeted in the ongoing searches.