Pakistan in contact with US over plan to send Afghan refugees back home

Afghan refugees found involved in illegal activities, terrorism

ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan is in contact with the Unit­ed States over a plan to send more than one million Afghan refugees back home, diplomatic sources said yesterday. Senior Pakistani diplo­mats told The Nation that Pakistan had briefed the US about the illegal activities of the Afghan refugees and their involvement in terrorism.

One diplomat said the US respects Pakistan’s decision but feared hu­manitarian crisis due to the mas­sive repatriation. “But we will take decision in our own national inter­est. We are a responsible state and telling our friends that this is not revenge. We have evidence of their (refugees) involvement in terrorism and disruptive activities,” he added.

Another diplomat said the deci­sion has been taken to send back the illegal refugees and practical steps will be taken soon.

Earlier, the caretaker federal cabi­net approved the return of approx­imately 1.1 million Afghan refugees living unlawfully within Pakistan. This significant decision stems from the ongoing tensions between Paki­stan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s decision to repatriate il­legal Afghan refugees is expected to evoke reactions from the Afghan Tal­iban government and the United Na­tions High Commissioner for Refu­gees (UNHCR). The UNHCR opposes the policy of forcibly returning ref­ugees. Pakistan maintains there are 1.1 million Afghan refugees living in the country without legal documen­tation, and a vast number of Afghan nationals have entered Pakistan il­legally following the Taliban’s take­over of Afghanistan.

Authorities claim a substantial por­tion of these refugees is involved in activities detrimental to the state, prompting their prompt repatria­tion. Pakistan has communicated its decision to the Afghan Taliban gov­ernment. Pakistan has been a host to millions of Afghan refugees for nu­merous years, with a peak population of five million at one point. Approxi­mately four million Afghan refugees remain in Pakistan, but only a frac­tion possesses valid refugee cards. The crackdown on illegal Afghan ref­ugees is a response to the strained re­lations between Pakistan and Afghan­istan, primarily related to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

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