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Taliban condemns Pakistan plan to evict Afghan nationals as ‘unacceptable’

October 5, 2023 at 11:22 am

Afghan refugees live in hard contidions in Pakistan as they demand the renewal of their registration cards which has expired on June 30, in Peshawar, Pakistan on September 12, 2023 [Muhammed Semih Uğurlu/Anadolu Agency]

Afghanistan’s Taliban government has condemned Pakistan’s plan to evict hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees and migrants, calling it “unacceptable” and denying Islamabad’s security concerns.

Pakistan’s caretaker government expressed its concern over the threat that the roughly two million Afghans in the country allegedly pose to security following a meeting of civil and military leaders on Tuesday. The agenda covered a review of the country’s law-and-order situation after two suicide bombings killed at least 57 people on Friday.

According to Pakistan’s caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti, Afghan nationals carried out 14 out of the 24 suicide bombings in Pakistan this year, including those last week which reportedly involved one Afghan. Bugti also accused India’s intelligence agency of being involved in the attacks.

As a result, the caretaker government set a deadline of 1 November for all “illegal immigrants” to leave Pakistan or else face expulsion. Critics say that this is a veiled threat directed specifically at Afghan refugees and migrants.

The Taliban government in Kabul condemned the Pakistani plan. The movement’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on X yesterday: “The behaviour of Pakistan against Afghan refugees is unacceptable. The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan. Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them.”

The spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Abdul Mutalib Haqqani, also denied the claims that Afghans are a cause of instability and a threat to security in Pakistan. “We deny all these claims because Afghans have migrated to other countries for their safety, their security,” Haqqani told AFP. “It’s natural when someone migrates to another country for his safety, he would never want insecurity there.”

Pakistan’s security concerns stem mainly from the presence of and attacks launched by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which Islamabad sees as being directly affiliated with Afghanistan’s Taliban and accuses Kabul of supporting the terrorists covertly. The Taliban government has denied this, pointing to a number of crackdowns it has made against TTP elements in Afghanistan.

According to the UN, Pakistan hosts around 1.3 million Afghans who are registered as refugees and a further 880,000 who have legal status to remain. The Pakistani authorities claim, however, that 1.73 million more Afghans have been living in Pakistan without any legal status.

READ: UN opposes Pakistan plan to evict ‘illegal immigrants’