Pak envoy claims no ‘forced’ deportations of Afghans, says 98 pc went back voluntarily


Islamabad: Pakistan United Nations Ambassador Munir Akram said on Wednesday that no forced deportations of Afghans were taken out of Pakistan and emphasized that 98 per cent of people went back to Afghanistan voluntarily, Dawn reported.

According to the report, a Pak envoy addressing a special security council session on Afghanistan emphasized that characterizing the protection environment for Afghans in Pakistan as unfavourable is inaccurate and offensive.
This comes a long time after Pakistan conducted a mass deportation drive of illegal Afghan citizens residing in the country on the order of then-caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar.

Under the deportation drive, undocumented Afghan citizens were deported from the country and taken into deportation camps. The Pakistan envoy stated that after Pakistan announced its plan to enforce laws on illegal aliens, 500,000 undocumented Afghans voluntarily returned to Afghanistan. He noted that 98 per cent of these returns were voluntary, with the remaining 2 per cent involving individuals engaged in terrorism, drug smuggling, or other crimes, Dawn reported.

Ambassador Akram expressed displeasure with a UN report claiming an unfavourable protection environment in Pakistan, highlighting the country’s four-decade-long sheltering of almost five million Afghan refugees.
“Even today, over one million undocumented Afghans remain in Pakistan. They should return forthwith. We have made several exceptions for those with Afghan ID cards, POR cards, for those who may be ‘vulnerable’ if they return,” he said.

Dawn reported that as the session began, the UN envoy for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva reiterated a call for the Taliban to lift restrictions on women and girls, warning of worsening human rights violations if the constraints persist.

She said that the recent arbitrary arrest of Afghan women for alleged Islamic dress code violations was having a chilling effect on the wider female population, “many of whom are now afraid to move in public”. The UN envoy added, “The denial of women and girls’ access to education and work, and their removal from many aspects of public life, has caused immense harm to mental and physical health, and livelihoods.”

“The violation of these principles and norms is not in the immediate or long-term interests of Afghanistan,” Ambassador Akram said. “Pakistan considers sustained engagement with the Afghan interim government to be essential to normalise the situation in Afghanistan,” he added.

Over 500,000 Afghan immigrants had been sent home as a result of the government’s deportation campaign against them, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry told the Senate on Tuesday, according to Dawn. All illegal immigrants were given an ultimatum by the government in October to depart Pakistan by October 31 or face incarceration and deportation to their home countries.

The caretaker administration formally launched a national drive to remove unauthorised foreign nationals, most of whom are Afghans, after the deadline passed. Human rights organisations and Afghanistan both criticised the action, but the government stood its own and insisted that it was not directed at any one ethnic community, reported Dawn.

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