Amnesty International: Pakistan must stop harassing and arbitrarily arresting Afghan refugees

Amnesty International: Pakistan must stop harassing and arbitrarily arresting Afghan refugees
Refugee camp in Afghanistan. Source: © Lauras Eye via Flickr, 2010.


Julija Stavar

Pakistan Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

Afghans are fleeing their country to escape the persecution by the Talibans, and since 2021, hundreds of thousands have fled to neighboring Pakistan. According to Amnesty International (2023), many Afghan refugees and asylum seekers have been subjected to arbitrary detentions, arrests and the threat of deportation. Many have arrived in Pakistan with regular visas, but due to delays in registration processes these have already expired and encountered problems for overstaying their visas or lacking documentation (Amnesty International, 2023).

Amnesty International has conducted a series of interviews with Afghan refugees, who have raised concerns about harassment by Pakistani police and officials. These threats, harassment and extortion of money have only been amplified as it is occurring during the delays of the third-country relocation processes and expired visas which makes them legally vulnerable (Amnesty International, 2023). There have been reports on such practices in Sindh, Karachi, Peshawar, Chaman, Quetta and many more (Amnesty International). As a consequence of their vulnerable legal status, they cannot complain publicly about the challenges they face. In addition, they are unable to secure formal employment and thus vulnerable to exploitation (Amnesty International, 2023). Neither can they open bank accounts and landlords take advantage of their lack of proof of regular status (Amnesty International, 2023). They also struggle to access healthcare and education for their children (Amnesty International, 2023). All of these are even more difficult for girls and women that also face gender discrimination. 

Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for South Asia, commented: “It is deeply concerning that the situation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan is not receiving due international attention. Being unable to return home or stay permanently in Pakistan, they are caught in an impossible situation from which there is no escape” (Amnesty International, 2023). She then continued, “Afghans seeking asylum were first punished by the Taliban — and now by arduous registration, asylum and visa processes. The international community has failed to provide adequate protection to those fleeing persecution in Afghanistan” (Amnesty International, 2023).

Sources and further readings:

Amnesty International. (2023, June 20). Pakistan: Government must stop harassing and arbitrarily arresting Afghans seeking refuge. Amnesty International. Retrieved June 26, 2023, from