ISLAMABAD (AP) — Amnesty International on Thursday urged Pakistan to maintain its support for Afghan refugees by enabling them to live with dignity and be free from the fear of deportation to Afghanistan where they face persecution by the Taliban.
A forced return of refugees to Afghanistan could put them at a “grave risk,” Amnesty said in a statement, though Pakistan says its ongoing operations against irregular immigration weren’t specific to Afghans.
“Afghans in Pakistan are fleeing persecution by the Taliban,” said Nadia Rahman, Amnesty’s regional deputy director for research in South Asia. “They are living incredibly precarious lives where they are either having to undergo arduous processes for registering as refugees in Pakistan, or are stuck in lengthy processes waiting to obtain relocation to another country.”
The appeal by Amnesty came two days after Pakistan announced a major crackdown on migrants who are in the country illegally — many of whom are from Afghanistan — and said it would expel them starting next month.
The Taliban government’s chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has also opposed Pakistan’s announcement about the migrants, saying it was “unacceptable” and that Islamabad should reconsider the decision.
Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees since they fled Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation.