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Thousands of Afghans rush to leave Pakistan as deadline expires

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Thousands of Afghans rush to leave Pakistan as deadline expires

Hundreds of hundreds of Afghans residing in Pakistan confronted detention and deportation Wednesday, as a authorities deadline for them to go away sparked a mass exodus.

The authorities has given 1.7 million Afghans it says live illegally within the nation till Nov. 1 to go away voluntarily or be forcibly eliminated.

Thousands joined a snaking queue that stretched 7 kilometres (4 miles) on the busiest border level Wednesday, with border officers reporting no less than 29,000 individuals crossed into Afghanistan the day earlier than.

“Since Nov. 1, the process of arrest and subsequent deportation of illegal foreigners has begun. However, the voluntary return of illegal foreigners will also continue and be encouraged,” the Interior Ministry mentioned in an announcement.

It mentioned greater than 140,000 individuals have left Pakistan for the reason that begin of October when the order was issued by an unelected caretaker authorities forward of elections due in January.

Forty-nine holding centres, some able to holding a number of thousand individuals, opened throughout the nation Wednesday to course of and deport Afghans, state media mentioned.

“My heart doesn’t really want to return to Afghanistan but I have no other choice,” mentioned 32-year-old Irfanullah, as he waited to be deported.

“The police were harassing me … they used to disrespect all the men and women by entering our houses, that’s why we are returning, to avoid further humiliation.”

Millions of Afghans have poured into Pakistan in latest many years, fleeing a collection of violent conflicts, together with an estimated 600,000 for the reason that Taliban authorities seized energy in August 2021 and imposed its harsh interpretation of Islamic regulation.

Human Rights Watch has mentioned Afghans awaiting resettlement to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada after fleeing the Taliban authorities are susceptible to deportation after their Pakistan visas expired.

Pakistan has mentioned the deportations are to guard its “welfare and security” after a pointy rise in assaults, which the federal government blames on militants working from Afghanistan.

Afghan refugees arrive with their belongings on trucks from Pakistan at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2023. (AFP Photo)

Afghan refugees arrive with their belongings on trucks from Pakistan at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 2023. (AFP Photo)

‘Emergency scenario’

Authorities on the Afghan aspect of the border have been overwhelmed by the dimensions of the exodus as they try to course of these returning – a few of whom are setting foot in Afghanistan for the primary time of their lives.

Samiullah Samoon, who leads immigration registration at Torkham, mentioned the crossing is dealing with “an emergency situation.”

After fleeing to Afghanistan, 35-year-old Benafsha, 4 months pregnant together with her seventh little one, was ready to be processed earlier than transferring on to her province of origin, Kunduz, together with her household.

“In Kunduz, we don’t have land, or a home, or work,” mentioned the girl, who was by no means documented in Pakistan regardless of residing there nearly all her life.

“We don’t have anything there.”

The Taliban authorities has urged Pakistan to present undocumented Afghans within the nation extra time to go away as stress mounts at border posts.

‘Enough is sufficient’

Lawyers and rights teams have accused the Pakistani authorities of utilizing threats, abuse, and detention to coerce Afghan asylum seekers to go away whereas Afghans have reported weeks of arbitrary arrests and extortion.

“The constitution of Pakistan gives every person who is present on this soil right to a fair trial but these refugees have been denied that right,” mentioned Moniza Kakar, a Karachi-based human rights lawyer.

The expulsion of undocumented Afghans, nonetheless, has widespread assist from Pakistanis, analysts say, with a protracted refugee presence placing a heavy burden on the nation’s infrastructure.

Thousands of households arrived voluntarily on Wednesday at a holding heart in Landi Kotal close to the Torkham border, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the place nearly all of Afghan migrants stay.

In different cities, Police vans with detained Afghans had been seen arriving at city holding facilities.

Authorities have additionally focused homes and companies they deem unlawful, in addition to Pakistanis accused of sheltering undocumented Afghans.

“Enough is enough, tell us the route and we will arrange a vehicle and leave today. This humiliation is too much,” mentioned 35-year-old Baaz Muhammad, who was born in Pakistan to refugee dad and mom, as he watched a bulldozer raze his dwelling.

In Balochistan, the federal government mentioned it was going door-to-door to hint undocumented Afghans who had refused to go away earlier than the deadline.

A 14-year-old Afghan woman, whom AFP has not recognized for safety causes, mentioned she would keep in Pakistan so long as doable, regardless of not having authorized papers.

“We are not going back home, because my education in Afghanistan would come to a grinding halt,” she instructed AFP in Peshawar.

“Our father has told us that if he is arrested by Pakistani authorities, we should not leave even then. Because we will have no life in Afghanistan.”

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