Pakistan deports Afghans awaiting U.S. resettlement: Report

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Pakistan’s deportation drive has resulted in the forced repatriation of numerous Afghan nationals awaiting resettlement in the United States, according to Afghan applicants and advocacy groups, as reported by Reuters.

Reuters reports that Pakistani officials often disregarded letters of protection issued by the U.S. embassy.

This situation complicates matters for Afghans, particularly since the U.S. embassy in Kabul is closed, and they face human rights challenges and economic crises at home.

Since November 1, Islamabad has been expelling over a million undocumented foreigners, predominantly Afghans, amid allegations of the Taliban sheltering Pakistani militants — a claim the Taliban denies.

The United Nations reports that over 450,000 Afghans have returned to their homeland, many enduring harsh winter conditions near the border.

Shawn VanDiver, president of #AfghanEvac, the primary coalition assisting these Afghans, told Reuters that at least 130 Afghans in the process of obtaining U.S. special immigration visas or refugee status have been deported. Pakistani police have arrested over 230 Afghans, although about 80 were later released.

A senior State Department official, speaking anonymously to Reuters, mentioned that the U.S. lacks a formal method to track such cases and believes the number of deportations to be minimal.

Before the November deadline, the U.S. embassy sent protection letters to approximately 25,000 Afghans to demonstrate their ongoing resettlement process. Washington also provided Pakistan with a list of Afghans in the U.S. resettlement pipeline.

Despite these measures, Reuters, quoting VanDiver and two anonymous Western diplomatic sources, indicated that Pakistani authorities often ignored these letters.

The senior State Department official acknowledged instances where Pakistani police respected the letters but did not provide specifics.

Reuters spoke with two Afghan families affected by deportation despite possessing the letter and an Afghan detained even with the letter’s protection.

These developments highlight the uncertain situation for Afghans promised U.S. protection and resettlement, as reported by Reuters.

Pakistan deports at least 1,500 undocumented Afghan migrants on a daily basis. The migrants are sent back to Afghanistan through the Torkham and Spin Boldak border crossings.