1.5 million Afghan refugees not burden for Pakistan: Imran Khan

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, currently serving time in a jail in Rawalpindi, voiced criticism on Thursday regarding Pakistan’s expulsion of undocumented migrants, emphasizing that the 1.5 million Afghan refugees in the country should not be perceived as a burden for a nation of 250 million people.

In October, Pakistan set a one-month deadline for all undocumented foreigners to leave by November 1 or face forcible expulsion. This move has triggered opposition from Afghanistan, the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other organizations, all asserting that the return of refugees should be voluntary and free from coercion.

Khan, acknowledging the historical ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan, expressed concern about the potential for a permanent rift in the relationship between the two neighboring countries due to the manner in which Afghan refugees are being expelled.

“Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for 40 years, but the benefits of this longstanding hospitality are being squandered due to a flawed strategy,” wrote Khan from his incarceration.

Highlighting the significance of a respectful approach, Khan urged the government to reconsider its policy and adopt a more considerate strategy for repatriating Afghan migrants.

Figures by Pakistani media show that over 412,000 Afghan migrants have been repatriated to Afghanistan so far.