The Return of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan from Pakistan

The Return of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan from Pakistan
Photo Source: Radio Free Europe


Angelique van der Burgh

Pakistan Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence

In September of 2023, the Pakistani government announced a crackdown on Afghan nationals illegally residing in the country [1]. The Pakistani government provided an ultimatum: all Afghan nationals illegally residing within the state would have to leave by November 1st [1]. Since September 17th, 2023, over 220,000 Afghan nations have left Pakistan. The Pakistani government is pursuing this return of Afghan nationals as it believes Afghan nationals are responsible for the smuggling of goods and foreign currency as well as recent suicide attacks [1]. However, the Taliban government in Afghanistan denies the involvement of Afghani nationals in suicide bombings [4]. 

However, what are the fates of those who have not left Pakistan yet and those who returned to Afghanistan? The influx of Afghan nationals drastically increased after the 2021 Taliban takeover of the Afghan government [2]. A number of these Afghan nationals await in Pakistan for resettlement to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, or Canada. The Afghan government has announced they will not arrest Afghan nationals awaiting such resettlement. In addition, the Pakistan government will not take action against individuals with Proof of Registration cards, provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with Afghan Citizen Cards, or with valid visas [3]. What awaits Afghan nationals who have returned to Afghanistan? The Taliban government in Afghanistan has set up temporary transit camps with food and medical assistance for those returning from Pakistan [4]. However, the conditions within Afghanistan have been decreasing since the takeover in 2021. Afghanistan is struggling with high levels of food insecurity, limited access to clean drinking water, and weak public health infrastructure [5]. Further attention needs to be paid to how Pakistan continues with this crackdown on Afghan nationals, and how Afghan nationals are received in Afghanistan. 

Sources and further readings: