The Express Tribune, November 10, 2023
Amnesty accuses Pakistan of using Afghan refugees as “political pawns”
In a statement, rights group urges Islamabad to stop ‘detaining, deporting, and harassing’ Afghan refugees
Amidst the deportation drive initiated by the Government of Pakistan against illegal immigrants, including Afghan nationals, Amnesty International on Friday urged Islamabad to "halt the continued detentions, deportations, and [alleged] widespread harassment of Afghan refugees".
In a statement, Livia Saccardi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns for South Asia, accused Pakistan of using Afghan refugees as "political pawns", emphasising the risk they face upon return to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan amidst a crackdown on human rights.
The human rights group cited reports of alleged harassment in holding centers and instances where legal migrants possessing Proof of Registration (POR) identity documents were allegedly targeted. The organisation claimed that a 17-year-old boy detained in a Karachi raid on November 3, despite being born in Pakistan and holding a UNHCR-issued POR card.
The Amnesty claimed that the family was denied access to the detention center, and the boy was deported the following day with his whereabouts remaining unknown.
Livia Saccardi warned that if the Pakistani government does not halt deportations immediately, it will deny thousands of at-risk Afghans, especially women and girls, access to safety, education, and livelihood.
The backdrop of these supposed apprehensions is the international community's reluctance to recognise the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan, which has faced allegations of human rights violations, particularly concerning girls' education and freedom of expression.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has openly addressed the non-cooperation of the Afghan Taliban regime in addressing the recent spike in terrorist incidents in Pakistan, particularly attributed to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Kakar linked the increase in terror incidents to the Taliban's return to power in 2021, stressing that the expulsion of undocumented Afghans was a response to the unwillingness of the Taliban-led administration to act against terrorists using Afghan soil for attacks in Pakistan.
Despite Pakistan's continuous expression of concerns about militant safe havens in Afghanistan, the Taliban-led administration has not taken sufficient action, leading to the deportation measures.
The Doha Accord, facilitating the US exit from Afghanistan in 2021, had included assurances from the Taliban that Afghan soil would not be used for terrorism against any country, including Pakistan.
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