Deportation of illegal migrants strains ties with Afghanistan

  • Haqqani denounces decision as un-Islamic, saying Islamabad shifting blame onto Afghanistan for its own problems
  • High-ups say move to repatriate these individuals necessary to address economic strain Pakistan is facing.

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad’s decision to deport illegal migrants has caused significant strain in its relationship with Afghanistan, as the Taliban government and several of its leaders publicly criticize Islamabad for evicting thousands of Afghans.

The move has put bilateral ties at stake, with the interim prime minister, defense minister, and interior minister of Afghanistan openly expressing their discontent with Pakistan’s actions.

While Pakistan has consistently stated that its decision is solely aimed at repatriating individuals without legal documents, the Afghan Taliban government continues to accuse Islamabad of harassing refugees. The Taliban government has even suggested that Pakistan’s move may be a pressure tactic to address the issue of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), further exacerbating tensions between the two nations.

In a recent video message, Afghan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani appealed to Pakistan to refrain from punishing Afghan refugees if there were any issues with the Kabul administration. Haqqani denounced Pakistan’s decision as un-Islamic and claimed that Islamabad was attempting to shift blame onto Afghanistan for its own problems. Additionally, Defense Minister Mullah Yaqub warned that there would be consequences for Pakistan due to this decision.

However, Pakistani officials have vehemently denied any connection between the deportation of illegal migrants and the TTP issue. An anonymous senior government official clarified that the decision to send back all foreigners residing in the country illegally was made six months ago, emphasizing that it was not intended as a means to pressure the Afghan government.

The official further explained that Pakistan, facing economic challenges, could no longer bear the burden of illegal migrants. With limited resources, the country cannot sustain the presence of individuals without legal status. The move to repatriate these individuals is a necessary step to address the economic strain Pakistan is facing.

Despite criticism from certain international organizations and Western countries, Pakistani officials have dismissed their concerns. They argue that these countries should first implement what they preach and address their own handling of illegal migrants. The officials also highlighted incidents in which boat-riding migrants drowned off the coasts of Europe, implying that these countries failed to rescue illegal migrants.

Pakistan has treated illegal migrants with respect over the years, but now it insists that they must return to their home countries. The process of repatriating an estimated 1.7 million illegal Afghan migrants is expected to be completed within a year.

The deportation of illegal migrants has further complicated the already strained relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly due to the presence of TTP sanctuaries across the border. As both nations navigate this challenging situation, diplomatic channels remain open for dialogue to address concerns and find common ground.

 

Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today

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