The process of expelling Afghan refugees from Pakistan continues. However, in the latest developments, the Pakistani administration seems to be bowing down to the increasing international pressure. The deadline for refugees has been extended.
The process of sending Afghan refugees allegedly living without documents to other countries in Pakistan is continuing. However, the deadline for sending these refugees to Western countries has been extended. According to reports, amid increasing international pressure, the Pakistani administration has extended the deadline for the repatriation of Afghan citizens till February 29. This decision has been taken after the visit of US Special Representative Thomas West to Pakistan.
Thomas West met Pakistan’s acting Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani during his visit to America. A week later, Acting Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said, the deadline for Afghan refugees has been extended from December 31 to February 29, 2024. He said that this decision has been taken to give adequate time to Afghan citizens to go to any third country. This decision will provide help to the refugees along with giving them time to obtain legal documents. According to the government, efforts are being made to finalize the evacuation arrangements for refugees as soon as possible.
According to the report, Pakistan is making a rehabilitation plan to send refugees to other countries. A meeting of Pakistan’s caretaker cabinet was also held in this regard on Wednesday. According to the report, during the visit to the West, both sides (America and Pakistan) discussed many issues. This also includes the ongoing campaign against undocumented Afghans.
Let us tell you that human rights activists and United Nations officials have widely criticized the forced expulsion of Afghan refugees from Pakistan without proper documentation. The criticism led to international pressure on Pakistan to reconsider the controversial policy and it had to decide to extend the deadline.
On Wednesday, the Pakistani cabinet also decided that Afghan refugees will now be charged a fine of US $ 400 instead of US $ 800 for staying in Pakistan for a longer period. The provision of a fine is for Afghan citizens who want to go to a third country but do not have legal documents or processing fees.
After the due date, fines will be imposed at the rate of US$100 per month with a maximum limit of US$800, according to news related to the extension of the deadline for refugees. According to the Pakistani cabinet, so far 4.50 lakh people have gone back to their native country. Most people have gone voluntarily.
Let us tell you that in the 1980s, the Soviet Union had occupied Afghanistan. After this, lakhs of Afghans took refuge in the neighboring country Pakistan. When the Taliban captured Afghanistan in 2021, their number increased further. According to the decree of the Pakistani government, any person including Afghan refugees living in Pakistan without proper documents was asked to leave the country by October 31.
Pakistan has been criticized worldwide due to the possibility of arrest of a large number of Afghan refugees. However, Pakistani officials associated with the matter said that about 14 lakh Afghans registered as refugees need not worry. The action will be taken only against people living without proper documents.
Nearly 1.7 million illegal Afghan refugees in Pakistan
It is noteworthy that a campaign to expel illegal Afghan refugees has already been launched in Pakistan. However, after a few weeks, the government did not have complete success in this. According to government estimates, about 1.7 million illegal Afghan refugees are present in Pakistan who are not registered. According to UN data, 1.3 million Afghan refugees are registered. 8.80 lakh have the legal right to live in Pakistan. Relations between the Pakistani government and the Taliban regime have become tense following the suicide attacks.