By Amjad Ali
Peshawar, Pakistan, Nov 2 (EFE).- The first group of undocumented Afghans, who were detained by Pakistani authorities following the government’s deadline to leave the country, arrived at detention centers on Thursday.
Seven Afghans were transported in security forces to one of the 49 centers set up by the government near the Afghan border, where they intend to temporarily hold the detainees before their deportation.
“We are happy going back,” one of the detained Afghan immigrant told EFE, with a composed demeanor, shortly after disembarking from the police vehicle.
He is one of the hundreds of undocumented foreigners apprehended since Wednesday when the government’s deadline for them to leave the country expired.
The ultimatum led hundreds of thousands of migrants, primarily Afghans, to border crossings, causing chaos at various entry points.
The crossing points were overwhelmed by long lines of trucks packed with people.
Many had to wait, sleeping on the ground due to the sluggish immigration process, resulting in extended waiting times.
In recent days, it has been the common scene at the Torkham crossing, one of the main entry points between Pakistan and Afghanistan, housing the detention center where the group of seven Afghans, arrested a few kilometers away, was subsequently transferred.
“They were arrested from Timergara in Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province,” detention center official Abid Ullah told EFE.
Situated on the outskirts of the northern city of Peshawar, approximately 40 km from the Torkham crossing, the facility is intended to house undocumented foreigners detained by the authorities in the coming days.
Here, their data will be processed before they are repatriated to their home countries.
The seven newly-arrived Afghans, according to officials, underwent a quick registration process, were ready to return to the police van for deportation via Torkham.
“Their registration process has been completed. So they will be directly deported now without any further process at the border,” an official from the Federal Investigation Agency told EFE requesting not to be named.
Abid Ullah said around 40 other Afghan migrants were also en route to the detention center and would be deported following the registration of their information.
Despite the Pakistani government’s announcement that it would not initiate the detention of undocumented migrants within its borders until Thursday, due to the chaos at the borders that prevented thousands from returning to their homeland, the authorities made the initial detentions of foreigners on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, once the official deadline had passed, authorities cautioned of a potential escalation in detentions.
“We will intensify the crackdown as soon as we get orders from the central interior ministry,” Muhammed Imran, additional deputy commissioner for relief, told EFE at the detention center.
However, he did not provide any information regarding the fate of the thousands of Afghans still waiting in the vicinity of the Torkham crossing, hoping to return to their country.
The Pakistan government claimed Afghans had been involved in militant attacks and crimes in the country to defend its new anti-immigrant policy.
The operation to expel undocumented migrants from Pakistan, including 1.7 million unregistered Afghans, is taking place despite the UN’s appeal to halt the deportation, as many of them fled Afghanistan as refugees and are in the process of formalizing their transfer to third countries.
This compounded the fear that the majority of returnees have of the Taliban regime, which has governed Afghanistan since 2021, imposing its rigid fundamentalist societal vision.
Nevertheless, Pakistan, like other South Asian states, is not a signatory to the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention and lacks specific legislation for this group. EFE