Pakistan voluntarily. Masses of Afghans have left Pakistan already, as the Pakistani government announced that stern action will be taken against illegal refugees in Pakistan. About 60,000 Afghans have crossed the border, the Taliban government in Afghanistan maintains. Pakistan shares a border with Afghanistan which makes it the easiest destination. Since the 1979 Soviet invasion up till the return of the Taliban regime; masses have crossed the border making their way into Pakistan seeking a better life.
In the face of mounting pressure, thousands of Afghans in Pakistan have made their way back to Afghanistan in the last two months. The returnees expressed fear as they headed back to the Taliban rule, while others complained they had nothing to return to.
The Pakistan government says that in the last two months around 200,000 Afghan nationals have already left Pakistan ahead of the 1 November deadline. The government also says that the primary wave of deportations will target those without proper documentation – emphasizing that the move is only aimed at those who are in Pakistan illegally. Pakistan has been home to over four million Afghan migrants and refugees, about 1.7 million are undocumented, the Pakistan government claims.
Seeing the gravity of the matter and the consequences the deportations may have on the returnees, Human rights groups including Amnesty International and others have strongly criticized Pakistan’s deportation policy. Amnesty International claims that owing to the delays in the registration process, tens and thousands of new arrivals were unable to get themselves documented in Pakistan. Pakistan’s government was urged to rescind its decision, by Amnesty International stating that Afghan women and girls who return to Afghanistan at this point in time, in particular, would be put in “grave danger.”
The UNHCR has also expressed concern that certain groups of returnees including minorities, journalists, and women, could be put at risk. However, the UNHCR says they have received assurances from Pakistan government officials that these groups will not be forced to return.
Nonetheless, in the face of intense criticism, Pakistan’s government has lunged forward with its plans. Last week, Pakistan’s interior minister announced plans to open nationwide centers to help process detainees before deportation, further saying that the elderly, children, and women would be treated with extra care.