KABUL – The United States has issued a firm call to action for Afghanistan’s neighboring nations, with a specific focus on Pakistan, urging them to open their doors to Afghan refugees. The U.S. State Department has encouraged Pakistan to embrace Afghans seeking refuge and to fulfill their obligations concerning the treatment of refugees.
This is as Pakistan has set a deadline of November 1 for the departure of all illegal immigrants, a category that includes hundreds of thousands of Afghans. Those who do not comply with this deadline could potentially face forced expulsion.
According to official figures from Islamabad, approximately 1.73 million Afghans residing in Pakistan lack proper legal documentation. The Pakistani government has alleged that Afghan nationals have been involved in more than a dozen suicide bombings within the country this year.
It’s important to note that Pakistan has hosted the largest population of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Kabul in 1979, with the current estimate standing at 4.4 million. Among them, over 20,000 Afghan individuals sought refuge in Pakistan after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021. They are presently in Pakistan, awaiting the processing of their applications for U.S. Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) or resettlement in the United States as refugees.
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller emphasized, “We urge all states, including Pakistan, to uphold their respective obligations in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and to respect the principle of non-refoulement. We strongly encourage Afghanistan’s neighbors, including Pakistan, to allow Afghans seeking international protection and to coordinate with international humanitarian organizations.”
Pakistan has assured that the deportation process will be carried out in an organized manner and in phases, with individuals having criminal records potentially being the first to be repatriated. However, Afghanistan’s Taliban leadership has openly criticized Pakistan’s threat to expel Afghan migrants, deeming it “unacceptable.”
Over the past few years, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained, largely due to allegations that Islamist groups fighting against the Pakistani state operate from Afghan territory. The Taliban have consistently denied these claims.
In a joint effort, a coalition of former top U.S. officials and resettlement organizations has called upon Pakistan to exempt thousands of Afghan applicants for special U.S. visas and refugee relocation to the United States from deportation to Afghanistan. This plea underscores the importance of a coordinated response to the complex issue of Afghan refugees in the region.Top of Form