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Pakistan implements phase 2 of Afghan refugee repatriation plan

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
19 April 2024 | 11:54 a.m. SAST
2-minute read

“The Afghan Taliban are not too open about [Shahbaz Sharif’s left-wing government in Pakistan],” Arshad Yousafzai, a journalist from Pakistan, said earlier today on Radio Islam International.

Pakistan’s implementation of the second phase of its Afghan refugee repatriation project appears to be based on a complex political interplay between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan claims that the project is based on security concerns, while Afghanistan maintains that deporting Afghan refugees, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for decades, is illegal.

Pakistan has allegedly called on the Afghan government to halt the cross-border attacks led by Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) militants, over which the Afghan government reportedly have no control.

The Afghan government have reportedly requested that TTP and Pakistan negotiate to reach a solution.

The first phase of the project began three months ago, in which illegal Afghani refugees were repatriated.

“This is the second phase of that repatriation. It started three and a half months ago in winter, starting with sending on illegal Afghans that were based in Pakistan. These included the ones that were in Pakistan for four decades or three and a half decades. These included the ones who were born here, they had never been to Afghanistan; they did not know their provinces, their villages, or anything about the country except that they were Afghans. And also the fresh arrivals post-August 2021. So those were Afghans who were living in Pakistan, particularly in Islamabad and in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Yousafzai says.

“They were in transition, most of them were waiting, hoping that they will get visas to European countries or any country that was active in the war in Afghanistan, and there were promises that these people would get asylum in the European countries, which was not happening.”

However, the deportation is also affecting ordinary Afghans who have lived in Pakistan for decades, some even born there, and consider it there home.

The official number of Afghans being repatriated ranges from 1,7 to 2 million, including both registered and unregistered individuals.

The sentiment among Pakistanis varies, with the government prioritising security and pressuring the Afghan government to address reported cross-border attacks.

Regarding the overall situation in Pakistan, Yousafzai says that political tensions persist, with ongoing challenges and controversies including growing opposition to Shahbaz Sharif’s government and growing support for imprisoned Imran Khan.

“In my province, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it’s Imran Khan’s party that is in power now… Initially, we feared that it would be a provisional government of retaliation, and they would be confronting the federal government. But that is not happening at the moment. It’s a bit peaceful right now,” Yousafzai reports.

He notes that the Afghan government would prefer Imran Khan to govern Pakistan because they distrust Shahbaz Sharif, but “believe that Imran Khan is a man of his word and can deliver on many promises that he made.”

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.

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