US urges Pakistan to accept Afghan refugees

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US urges Pakistan to accept Afghan refugees

WASHINGTON, OCT 20: The United States has urged Pakistan to allow Afghans seeking protection to enter the country. The US State Department said on Thursday that it strongly encourages Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Pakistan, to allow entry for Afghans seeking international protection and to coordinate with international humanitarian organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.

“We strongly encourage Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Pakistan, to allow entry for Afghans seeking international protection and to coordinate with international humanitarian organizations … to provide humanitarian assistance,” a US State Department spokesperson told reporters on Thursday as reported by Reuters.

Pakistan has set a November 1 deadline for all illegal immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of Afghans, to leave the country or face forcible expulsion.

Pakistan says the deportation process would be orderly and conducted in phases and could begin with people with criminal records.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have said Pakistan’s move to evict illegal Afghan migrants was “unacceptable”.

Relations have deteriorated between Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past couple of years, largely over accusations that militants fighting the Pakistani state operate from Afghan territory. The Taliban deny this claim.

A group of former top US officials and resettlement organizations have urged Pakistan to exempt from deportation to Afghanistan thousands of Afghan applicants for special US visas or refugee relocation to the United States.

Some 1.73 million Afghans in Pakistan have no legal documents.

Islamabad alleges that Afghan nationals carried out over a dozen suicide bombings this year.

Pakistan has hosted the largest number of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Kabul in 1979. Islamabad says the number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan totalled 4.4 million.

Some 20,000 or more Afghans who fled the 2021 Taliban takeover of Afghanistan are in Pakistan awaiting the processing of their applications for US Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) or resettlement in the United States as refugees.