Haroon ur Rasheed

As the deadline approaches for illegal Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, Afghan citizens have commenced their journey back to their homeland via the Torkham border crossing.

Border officials report that in the past two days, over 30 families, comprising approximately 1,000 individuals, have left Pakistan. Authorities have designated a parking area in Torkham for returnees, where personnel are on hand to assist with their registration and facilitate the process.

These officials further reveal that Afghan families residing in various Pakistani cities without proper documentation have opted to return voluntarily to Afghanistan, aiming to avoid potential arrests and embarrassment.

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Briale Hasrat, hailing from Laghman province in Afghanistan, shared that his family, consisting of nine members, has been living in Nowshera for the past two decades. Despite possessing Afghan citizenship cards issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), they have chosen to return to Afghanistan due to improved economic and security conditions in their home country compared to Pakistan.

Afghan citizens have also appealed for financial assistance to help those returning to Afghanistan rebuild their homes and establish businesses.

It’s important to note that Pakistan has urged all illegal immigrants to leave the country voluntarily by October 30, with warnings of arrests and deportations after the deadline expires.

Conversely, a significant number of Afghan citizens residing in various Pakistani cities have called for flexibility in the situation. They expressed concerns about the impact on their children’s education, as many Afghan kids are currently studying in Pakistan. The sudden departure could disrupt their education, particularly the girls, as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has banned girls’ education.

Meanwhile, Pakistani law enforcement agencies have apprehended over 1,000 Afghan nationals under the 14-Foreign Act as part of their ongoing crackdown on foreigners residing in Islamabad without proper documentation.

Collaborative efforts by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police and paramilitary forces have led to joint raids at various locations, including Afghan settlements, to verify documents related to legal residency in Pakistan.

After verifying documents, 503 Afghan nationals possessing Proof of Registration (POR) cards were released, while the remaining 623 Afghan citizens were arrested on charges of illegal residence in Islamabad and subsequently transferred to jail.

The administration plans to implement the Deportation Implementation Plan (DIP) to repatriate incarcerated foreigners to their respective countries of origin.