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Police officers try to control immigrants, mostly Afghans, gather to verify their data at a counter of Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority, in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Pakistan government launched a crackdown on migrants living in the country illegally as a part of the new measure which mainly target all undocumented or unregistered foreigners. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Pakistan’s deportation hysteria risks radicalizing Afghan refugees

AT News

KABUL – The recent surge in Pakistan’s efforts to expel undocumented Afghan migrants has stirred concerns among analysts and experts. The mass deportations, affecting over 250,000 Afghans, risk not just exacerbating strained relations between the two nations but also fueling radicalization among those forced to return to Afghanistan.

The move, primarily targeting Afghan nationals residing in Pakistan without proper documentation, has drawn criticism for its severe impact on individuals who had sought refuge and a better life in Pakistan. The swift expulsion has left thousands crossing the border daily, often with minimal belongings, to face challenging conditions in a country they left in pursuit of a brighter future.

Zahid Hussain, an expert in militancy and acclaimed author, warns that such mistreatment could sow seeds of hatred and potential radicalization against Pakistan among the deported Afghans. Hussain highlights the missed opportunity for a constructive agreement between Islamabad and the Taliban-led government in Kabul, a move that could have averted the backlash stemming from the forced expulsions.

“Policies should be corrected before things go out of control,” Hussain urged, emphasizing the need for reconsideration before the situation escalates further.

The Pakistani government justifies the crackdown citing increased violence in the country, particularly following the Taliban’s ascension in Afghanistan. However, analysts caution that this hardline approach risks straining relations and fostering animosity, potentially providing an opening for militant groups to exploit the situation.

The abrupt and vast expulsion of Afghans, many of whom have resided in Pakistan for decades, without allowing time to wind up their lives in the country, has raised concerns of potential security threats. With many lacking connections to Afghanistan and facing hardships upon return, aid agencies and experts anticipate challenges in their reintegration due to language barriers and limited resources.

As Pakistan grapples with its approach to undocumented migrants, the repercussions of these expulsions could not only strain bilateral relations but also pose a risk of fostering resentment and potential security challenges for both nations.

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