Pakistan’s government has announced that it will not deport paperless Afghan migrants or throw them in jail after the end of this month, but rather impose fines or perhaps blackmail them from returning to Pakistan.
The interior ministry of Pakistan in October circulated ads on TV channels and social medial warning foreign nationals who overstayed in the country beyond December 31, 2022, will face serious consequences. The punishment included imprisonment and forceful deportation. However, the fresh announcement states that foreign nationals, Afghan migrants, in particular with no legal documentation will be fined or blacklisted rather than being thrown to jail.
Following the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, thousands of Afghans fled to Pakistan either by having legal visas or illegally sneaking into the country mostly through the Chaman crossing point.
Among these Afghan migrants, there are interpreters and civil service providers who served with the military forces of different countries, namely Canada, the U.S., Germany and others. They are impatiently waiting for their visas to get processed.
Besides the uncertainty, most Afghan citizens’ visas and travel documents have already expired, hoping to hear about their visa applications from the foreign embassies. Additionally, Afghan refugees in Pakistan don’t have the right to work causing them further income-related problems.
Following the armed clashes that took place at the Chaman-Spin Boldak area between the border forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan on December 11 and 15, the relationship deteriorated between the two sides. Prior to the border shelling, a gunfire attack targeted the Chief Pakistani Diplomat in Kabul on December 5, leaving one of his bodyguards with severe injuries.
The growing unfriendly relationship between Kabul and Islamabad may have its negative consequences on the lives of the desperate Afghan migrants living with no horizon ahead in different cities of Pakistan.