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Afghan nationals along with their families stand along a road near a vehicle in Jamrud area of Khyber district, some 30 Km west of Peshawar on October 6, 2023, as they return to Afghanistan following Pakistan's government decision to expel people illegally staying in the country. - Hundreds of thousands of Afghans living illegally in Pakistan have been given until November 1 to leave voluntarily or face deportation, the interior minister said on October 3, a crackdown Kabul's embassy in Islamabad called "harassment". (Photo by Abdul MAJEED / AFP)

Pakistan demolishes homes of Afghan refugees amid unprecedented crackdown

AT News

KABUL – Afghan refugees in Pakistan are facing a dire situation as the Pakistani government has reportedly demolished many of their homes, leading to mounting concerns over their safety and humanitarian rights. The actions by Pakistani authorities are believed to be an attempt to pressure these long-term residents to leave the country.

Over the past two days, refugee camps in Pakistan housing Afghan families have been subjected to ruthless destruction, with apparent disregard for the presence of women and children within these homes, according to eyewitness accounts. Haji Nazar, a Pakistani-based Afghan refugee, described the distressing scenes, emphasizing the need for immediate assistance.

Mir Ahmad Rauf, the head of the Afghan Refugees’ Council in Pakistan, has reported widespread destruction of Afghan homes in various regions, including Islamabad’s B-17 and Karachi. He further stated that not only are houses being demolished, but the personal belongings of Afghan refugees are also being confiscated, exacerbating their already challenging circumstances.

The urgency of addressing the plight of these vulnerable refugees is underscored by this heartbreaking testimony, highlighting the need for their safety and security.

Anwar ul Haq Kakar, the caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan in Peshawar, emphasized that the repatriation of Afghan refugees does not signify the termination of relations with Afghanistan. However, the Taliban administration in Kabul has voiced concerns about the mistreatment of Afghan refugees, noting the potential detrimental impact on bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation has reported a recent trend in repatriation, with 800 families returning from Pakistan in the past week. This group comprises 4,975 individuals, including 391 prisoners incarcerated in Pakistani prisons.

Sarfaraz Bugti, the caretaker of Pakistan’s interior, has clarified that the expulsion of illegal migrants is a policy that applies regardless of nationality. Afghan nationals, as well as anyone residing in the country without proper legal documentation, will face expulsion from Pakistan after the designated deadline. This has raised concerns among Afghan refugees, who allege that they often find themselves detained, harassed, and subjected to mistreatment by Pakistani law enforcement authorities.

Afghan political analysts have voiced apprehensions about Pakistan’s commitment to expelling Afghan refugees, citing the significant influx of international aid, totaling 21.3 billion USD since 2021. This substantial financial support has cast doubt over Pakistan’s stance on the Afghan refugee issue, leaving it uncertain.

Earlier statements by the interim minister of interior affairs of Pakistan, as reported in Pakistani media, indicated a firm stance on expelling illegal refugees beyond the October-end deadline, further raising questions about the government’s position in light of the financial support received.

The situation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan is becoming increasingly critical, with international concern growing over their welfare. Humanitarian organizations and advocates dedicated to supporting refugees are being called upon to address this escalating crisis.

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