Pakistan will deport two million Afghans starting tomorrow

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This Tuesday the four-week period granted by Pakistan to two million immigrants in an irregular situation to leave the country on their own will expire. In reality, almost all of them come from Afghanistan, so sixty thousand of them approached their border crossings during the first twelve days, according to the UN. The pace of traffic has accelerated since then.

The interim government in Pakistan – whose main function is to organize legislative elections in January – has defended its ultimatum in the face of UN protests. The Repatriation Plan for Illegal Foreigners applies “to everyone equally,” the Interior Ministry has responded, and furthermore “it does not affect 1.4 million Afghans with refugee status.”

Islamabad's ultimatum expires today and with it 45 years of hospitality to its neighbors

For many more, however, today is the last day they will be able to cross the border with their identity card. Starting tomorrow, anyone who does not have a passport and visa will be deported, according to Islamabad, which says it has reception and transit camps ready.

The deportations will begin “in a period of between one and three weeks,” they have said. “Pakistan has taken this decision in accordance with its own laws and national, economic and security interests,” the government says.

None of this reassures the Hazara Shiites or the Afghan teenagers, who know that their country's public system will not educate them until further notice.

Five schools for Afghans in Islamabad and Rawalpindi closed their doors yesterday, because their students fear raids. It should be added that deportees will only be able to carry the equivalent of 642 euros in cash.

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In this way, on November 1, an unprecedented gap opens between Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact, the border, always porous, had been blurred since the Soviet invasion caused the first exodus of Afghans. But lately, the line of colonial origin, which separates the Pashtuns and which no government in Kabul has ever recognized, is being fortified from the Pakistani side.

Behind it is the political and financial crisis in Islamabad and the spike in attacks by the Pakistani Taliban Movement, although Kabul denies any collusion.

The Taliban regime reported this Monday of the massive influx of Afghan citizens to the border crossings, before the deadline expired.

According to the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation of Afghanistan, about 8,500 people yesterday crossed the Torjam Pass, one of the main crossings between both countries, being registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“There are thousands of children and women waiting under the sun,” summarized the Afghan Azim Gul to EFE to explain that the Taliban are overwhelmed.

Only a third of the two million irregular Afghans arrived in Pakistan after the Taliban takeover. Many of these were collaborators of the overthrown government.

“There will be no extensions,” warns Islamabad. “If forced return is not suspended, there will be a humanitarian catastrophe,” replies the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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