Local residents pass by the closed premises of the Ghazi Amanullah Khan High School for Afghan refugees after it was closed due to shortage of funding, in Karachi, Pakistan, 26 September 2023 (issued 27 September 2023). EFE-EPA FILE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

Taliban criticize Pakistan’s plans to deport Afghan refugees

Kabul, Oct 4 (EFE).- The Taliban government on Wednesday criticized Pakistan’s ultimatum to all undocumented migrants and refugees from its territory – mainly set to affect Afghans – to leave the country before Nov. 1, in order to avoid deportation.

Afghan refugee girls attend class at Syed Jamal Uddin High School that faces closure due to funding shortages in Karachi, Pakistan, 26 September 2023 (issued 27 September 2023). EFE-EPA FILE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

“Pakistan’s behavior against Afghan refugees is unacceptable. (…) The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan,” the de-facto Afghan government’s main spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on X, formerly Twitter.

Islamabad’s decision, announced Tuesday, is aimed at checking a rise in insurgent attacks, which have been attributed at times to Afghan-origin armed groups.

Pakistani interior minister Sarfraz Bugti had alleged that the Afghan soil was being used against Pakistan, and that the militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – the main Pakistani faction of the Taliban – found shelter in the neighboring country.

An estimated 4.4 million Afghans are currently living in the Pakistan, out of which 1.42 million possess proof of registration and 850,000 hold Afghan citizen cards, according to Bugti.

The remaining 1.73 million are unregistered illegal Afghans living in Pakistan, he claimed.

Afghan refugees are one of the world’s largest and oldest displaced population, which began to trickle into Pakistani territory during the Soviet invasion of 1979, while subsequent wars and conflicts accelerated the exodus.

On Wednesday, Mujahid insisted that Afghan refugees are “not involved in Pakistan’s security problems,” and urged Pakistan to “tolerate them until they leave Pakistan voluntarily.”

Islamabad’s ultimatum is also set to affect thousands of Afghan refugees who sought refuge across the border after the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August 2021.

The Taliban’s ascent to power in Afghanistan has coincided with a fresh surge in violence and terrorist attacks in Pakistan linked with various armed groups, including the TTP and the Islamic State.

Pakistan had witnessed a drop in attacks and violence during the previous regime in Kabul, which was backed by the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan. EFE