ISLAMABAD (Agencies): In a move to expedite the deportation of Afghans residing in the country illegally, Pakistan opened three new border crossings on Monday, bringing the total to five. Nearly 300,000 Afghans have left Pakistan in recent weeks as authorities intensified efforts to arrest and deport foreign nationals without proper documentation following the October 31 deadline for migrants without legal status to leave voluntarily.
The majority of those affected by the expulsions are Afghans, drawing criticism from the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and human rights organizations. The new border facilities, located in southwestern Baluchistan province, aim to streamline the deportation process.
Jan Achakzai, the caretaker provincial information minister, reported that approximately 15,000 Afghans are currently crossing the border daily from Pakistan, a significant increase from the 300 people crossing daily before the crackdown.
In recent days, over 1,500 Afghans without valid documents have been arrested by police in Baluchistan, according to Achakzai. Meanwhile, human rights advocates in Pakistan, such as Moniza Kakar, a prominent lawyer, have reported midnight raids on Afghan homes in Karachi, with families, including women and children, being detained.
Hina Jilani, the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, highlighted the country’s lack of a comprehensive mechanism to handle refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants without proper documentation, despite hosting Afghans for four decades.
The surge in violence against Pakistani security forces and civilians in recent years, claimed by groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has been attributed to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Pakistan accuses the Taliban of harboring militants from groups like the TTP, allegations the Afghan Taliban deny. Authorities assert that Afghans without permanent legal status are linked to some of these attacks.
Pakistan has historically hosted millions of Afghans, with many fleeing during the Soviet occupation from 1979 to 1989. Over half a million Afghans fled the country following the Taliban’s takeover.