The Taliban say that Afghan nationals are not to blame for Pakistan’s security problems. The Taliban say Pakistan plan to deport hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees and migrants is “unacceptable” and reject Islamabad’s accusations that Afghan nationals are responsible for Pakistan’s security problems.
“Pakistan’s treatment of Afghan refugees is unacceptable,” Taliban government spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid wrote on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) in Kabul on Wednesday. “Afghan refugees are not related to Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, the country should tolerate them,” he said. About 1 million Afghans are registered as refugees in Pakistan, and another 880,000 Afghans have legal status, according to the latest UN figures.
But Pakistan’s interim government said on Tuesday that another 1.73 million Afghans were living in Pakistan without any legal status and set a Nov. 1 deadline for them to leave or face deportation. Amnesty International, in a statement shared with Al Jazeera on Wednesday, urged Pakistan to continue providing “historic support” to Afghan refugees so they can live in dignity without fear of deportation to Afghanistan.
“They live extremely precarious lives, having to go through the complicated process of registering as refugees in Pakistan, or they are stuck in the long process of waiting to be resettled to another country. If they are forced to return to Afghanistan, they may be in grave danger. “
Amnesty International has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to speed up the registration and processing of applications from Afghans seeking international protection in Pakistan and for Pakistan to end its crackdown on refugees. The neighbors are tense
Afghans immigrated to neighboring Pakistan during decades of conflict during the Soviet invasion, subsequent civil war and US-led occupation. Almost 600,000 Afghans have arrived since the Taliban seized power in Kabul in 2021. Taliban authorities have tried to lure them away, although aid to the country was drastically cut after the fall of the US-backed government.
To justify the crackdown, Pakistan’s interim interior minister, Sarfraz Bugti, claimed that 14 of the 24 suicide bombings in Pakistan this year were carried out by Afghans. The Taliban deny the allegations.
“We reject all these allegations because Afghans are migrating to other countries for their safety,” said Abdul Muttalib Haqqani, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation. “When someone migrates to another country for security, it’s natural that they never want it to be unsafe,” he told AFP.
The ultimatum to the migrants came after Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders met to review the security situation following Friday’s twin suicide bombings that killed at least 57 people. Most of these immigrants have lived in the country for many years. Bugti said one of the suicide bombers was an Afghan national and also alleged the involvement of Indian intelligence agencies.
Relations between the Taliban and the Pakistani government have deteriorated significantly, with border clashes temporarily shutting down key trade routes between the neighboring countries last month. Islamabad claims that armed groups are using Afghan territory to train militants and plan attacks in Pakistan. The Taliban deny the allegations and claim that Pakistan’s security problems are of their own making. An interim government was formed in August to lead Pakistan into elections in the coming months, and the military will be able to exert greater influence amid the country’s insecurity and instability.