Taliban Requests Extension on Deportation Deadline from Pakistan

The Taliban government in Afghanistan has requested the Pakistani government to extend the deadline for undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan to leave voluntarily. This request comes as border posts are under immense pressure due to thousands of people returning home to avoid deportation threats.

The Pakistani government had set November 1 as the deadline for the 1.7 million Afghans living illegally in the country to leave voluntarily, or they would face forced removal. Border officials in the towns of Torkham and Chaman report that over 130,000 people have already left Pakistan since the order was issued at the beginning of October. This mass exodus has resulted in severe congestion on both sides of the border crossings.

In a statement, the Taliban authorities expressed their gratitude to Pakistan and other countries that have hosted millions of Afghans who fled their homeland during decades of conflict. However, they have requested these nations not to forcibly deport Afghans with short notice but instead provide them with more time to make necessary preparations.

Since the Taliban assumed power in August 2021, they have encouraged Afghans to return home. However, they have also criticized Pakistan’s actions asserting that Afghan nationals are being penalized for tensions between Islamabad and Kabul. The Taliban is calling for people to be granted additional time to leave voluntarily.

The Pakistani government claims that 1.7 million Afghans are residing in the country without proper documentation, and these individuals must either leave voluntarily or face repatriation. A significant number of Afghans have queued up at the busiest border crossing, with a line stretching for seven kilometres on Wednesday. On the previous day, at least 29,000 people had already crossed into Afghanistan.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province where the majority of Afghan migrants reside, authorities are preparing for a large-scale operation to detain undocumented families who refuse to leave, as confirmed by Feroz Jamal, a spokesman for the provincial government. Some 49 holding centres established by the government with some having capacity to accommodate several thousand people have opened across the country on Wednesday to process and deport Afghans.

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