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Pakistan to resume deportation of undocumented Afghan migrants in Punjab

Afghan migrants in crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan. File photo.

The Pakistani government is slated to continue the deportation of undocumented Afghan migrants from Punjab province starting April 15, according to Pakistani media.

Afghan migrants residing in Punjab and other Pakistani provinces have expressed concerns over their uncertain futures, citing security issues and political instability in Afghanistan as barriers to their return. Mohadisa, an Afghan refugee living in Islamabad with her two children, shared her plight. Forced to flee due to the Taliban’s oppressive measures against women and girls, she now faces economic hardships. Despite her background as a doctor in Afghanistan, Mohadisa struggles to make ends meet and lives in constant fear of deportation.

“My situation is dire. Police officers seeking visas have visited me. I lack proper documentation, leaving me terrified of deportation. How will my children survive without me? We’re also restricted from moving freely in public spaces,” Mohadisa explained.

Azmatullah, another Afghan in Pakistan, cited poverty and economic hardship as his reasons for migration. Working at a bread bakery, he earns 5,000 Afghanis (AFN) and hopes to provide for his basic needs.

The News International reported that the Pakistani government is pondering the continuation of Afghan refugee deportations by mid-April. Instructions from Pakistan’s Interior Ministry to Punjab’s provincial government have indicated the commencement of the second phase of the deportation process.

Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s Defense Minister, emphasized the importance of legal entry for Afghan nationals. “We welcome our Afghan brothers, provided they enter with passports and visas. Just as they travel to Iran, Tajikistan, and China with appropriate documents, they should do the same here,” he remarked.

In November 2023, Pakistan introduced a policy requiring the 1.73 million undocumented Afghan migrants within its borders to depart. Since the policy’s implementation, over 500,000 Afghans have returned to their homeland, as reported by the United Nations.