INTERNATIONAL

Pakistan is deporting over a million Afghan immigrants but media barred

As Pakistan’s deadline for undocumented foreigners to leave or face expulsion expired, the country’s northwestern border crossing was flooded with thousands of people looking to cross into Afghanistan. Major roads leading to border crossings into Afghanistan have been jammed with trucks carrying families.

A general view shows Afghan refugees who arrived from Pakistan at a makeshift camp near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border.(AFP)

Authorities begun rounding up undocumented foreigners, most of them Afghans, hours before the deadline leading to the forcible expulsion of more than a million Afghans who would either have to leave Pakistan or face arrest after Islamabad’s abrupt order delivered a month ago.

The Pakistan government said Afghans had been involved in militant attacks and crime in the country as it brushed off calls from the United Nations, rights groups and Western embassies to reconsider its plan. Deputy Commissioner Khyber Tribal District Abdul Nasir Khan told news agency Reuters that more than 24,000 Afghans crossed into Afghanistan using the Torkham border crossing on Wednesday alone.

“There were a large number waiting for clearance and we made extra arrangements to better facilitate the clearance process,” he said, adding that 128,000 Afghan nationals have left for Afghanistan through the border crossing since the Pakistan government gave its ultimatum. Thousands more are expected to cross in coming days, he said.

Before the deadline, 140,322 foreigners had already left Pakistan voluntarily, according to officials.

Meanwhile, Pakistan authorities barred media access to the border crossing.

How many Afghans are living in Pakistan?

Of the more than 4 million Afghans living in Pakistan, the government estimates 1.7 million are undocumented. Many fled during the decades of conflict in Afghanistan since the late 1970s. The Taliban takeover after the US withdrawal in 2021 led to another exodus.

Pakistan said that Afghan nationals were found to be involved in attacks against the government and the army, including 14 of this year’s 24 suicide bombings. Islamabad also blamed them for smuggling and other militant attacks as well as petty crimes. Kabul has rejected the accusations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Pakistan is deporting over a million Afghan immigrants but media barred

When not reading, this ex-literature student can be found searching for an answer to the question, “What is the purpose of journalism in society?” …view detail

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