Taliban warns Pakistan against ‘cruel’ treatment of Afghans as millions escape deportation

Taliban asks private sector to help with ‘humanitarian crisis’ after forced migration of hundreds of thousands of poor and needy

Arpan Rai
Saturday 04 November 2023 10:59 GMT
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<p>Trucks transporting Afghan refugees with their belongings are seen along a road towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border</p>

Trucks transporting Afghan refugees with their belongings are seen along a road towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border

A Taliban minister has issued a warning to Pakistan regarding the treatment of its Afghan refugees fleeing amid Islamabad’s swift anti-migrant crackdown, urging its rival neighbour to not be “cruel” to Afghans leaving the country.

The regime in Pakistan should not be “cruel to the Afghans, not seize their personal property and assets”, acting deputy defence minister Mohammed Yaqoob Mujahid said, reported Tolo News.

He warned that Pakistan cannot seize any assets by “any rule or law” as such moves will be questioned.

“We will attempt with all our capacity to prevent it and will not allow anyone to seize and steal the personal property of Afghan brothers,” the Taliban minister said, calling the policy a unilateral move.

Afghan refugee families sit on a truck heading towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border

Seeking the United Nations help in the continuing migrant crisis, the Taliban minister said that “even though it [Pakistan] sends the refugees to their country, they [refugees] should be sent to the country with dignity and return to their homeland”.

As many as 250,000 Afghans fled Pakistan before the 31 October deadline to leave voluntarily expired as they averted jail sentences. Tens of thousands are heading to border areas fearing detention and deportation as Pakistan security forces go door-to-door searching for undocumented foreigners. Aid agencies have scrambled teams to border areas, describing chaotic and desperate scenes among returning Afghans.

The UN and other organisations should push Pakistan to end the current situation towards the refugees, the Taliban minister said.

He also warned that the anti-migrant policy threatening millions of Afghans who had fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban is severely impairing the bilateral ties between the two countries.

“So, the Pakistani regime should think of the consequences of whatever it is doing. It should plant as much as it will be able to reap,” he stated.

Watching the desperate refugees fleeing the mass deportation drive, the Taliban on Saturday turned to the crisis-hit nation’s private sector.

In the caretaker regime, the Taliban’s ministry of commerce and industry has called upon the private sector to step forward and help, stating that millions forcibly expelled from Pakistan are facing the worst situation of their lives with no opportunities.

“The ministry invites the private sector to take action because of the profound humanitarian disaster caused by the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of the poor and needy. It is the duty of Islam and Afghans to stand up for their fellow countrymen,” the ministry said.

More than 165,000 Afghans have sought refuge in a makeshift camp near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province

Amid years of drought, a sapped economy starved of funds, an earthquake in Herat, decades of war and the approaching winter, Afghanistan is witnessing one of the most severe humanitarian crises, according to the organisations on the ground.

Millions have been internally displaced, raising concerns within the humanitarian community about the impoverished country’s ability to support or integrate those leaving Pakistan.

Contrary to general fears among refugees, Taliban social media accounts showed senior officials at the Torkham border, in eastern Nangarhar province, shaking hands with returning Afghans and welcoming them home.

Temporary camps are providing people with food, shelter, and health care, according to the Taliban authorities.

The deportation drive has sparked fresh diplomatic tensions between Pakistan and the Taliban, adding to the nations’ growing neighbouring tensions on terrorism activities. Pakistan says Afghans are responsible for carrying out suicide attacks in the country and accuses the Taliban of harbouring such militants. The Taliban reject the allegations.

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