Kabul urges Islamabad to show restraint over Afghan migrants

Kabul urges Islamabad to show restraint over Afghan migrants

Kabul: Afghan authorities have urged Pakistan not to unilaterally decide on the repatriation of Afghan migrants, emphasizing that they should not face harassment.

This plea comes amid reports suggesting Islamabad’s potential renewal of an eviction campaign. Last year, over half a million Afghans fled Pakistan following the former government’s directive for undocumented migrants to leave or risk arrest, amid strained Islamabad-Kabul relations over security issues.

While initially setting a November 2023 deadline, official sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, informed AFP in March that Pakistan is compiling data on Afghan migrants, including those with legal residency, in preparation for a renewed effort scheduled to begin after Ramadan.

A final decision has not been made on a repatriation push, according to Pakistan officials, but the Afghan deputy minister for refugees urged restraint in a meeting with a top Pakistani diplomat in Kabul.

“The issue of refugees is bilateral and decisions regarding them should be made through an understanding between both countries,” said Abdul Rahman Rashed, according to a ministry statement on social media platform X on Thursday.

“They shouldn’t be harassed until a joint mechanism is reached.”

Taliban authorities have urged Afghans to return home since taking power in 2021 but they also have condemned Pakistan’s actions, saying nationals are being punished for tensions between Islamabad and Kabul, and have called for people to be given more time to leave.

Millions of Afghans have poured into Pakistan over the decades, fleeing successive conflicts and political upheaval.