As only 19 days remain for illegal immigrants living in Pakistan before they must depart or face deportation, law enforcement agencies have intensified the crackdown against Afghan refugees. However, Afghan refugees living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are reluctant to return to Afghanistan. They say that they were born and raised in Pakistan, studied, and have businesses there. They are very concerned as they are at risk of deportation to a strife-torn country they have never seen.
Pakistan has set a month deadline for eviction of undocumented Afghan refugees, which expires on October 31, citing economic and security challenges. Afghan refugees said that Pakistan is their ‘homeland’.
They state that their birthplace is Pakistan and appeal to the government to reconsider the decision, urging it to grant them nationality and National Identity Cards. Afghan refugees are grappling with an uncertain future due to the government’s decision.
Responding to the government’s decision, a 35 years-old-Afghani refugee Kamran said that he I was born and raised here in Bannu. I have a deep connection to this place and aspire to continue living here while pursuing my business. I am requesting the government to give him Pakistani nationality.
Similarly, a 24-year-old Afghan refugee, born in Pakistan, shared that his grandfather had fled from Afghanistan. Engaged in business, he questions the prospect of repatriation to Afghanistan. He expresses a strong desire to remain in Pakistan, where he is content and wishes to continue building his life.
One refugee emphasized that he has never set eyes on Afghanistan because he was born and raised here. This (Pakistan) is his homeland.
In a similar sentiment, another Afghan national Mukhtar stated that typically, when someone spends three to four years in a foreign country, they become eligible for nationality. However, he and others like him have spent 35 years of their lives in Pakistan without ever going to Afghanistan. Instead of being sent back, they should be granted Pakistani nationality.
Afghan nationals who have been living here for the past 45 years advocate for a selective approach to repatriation. They propose that only those involved in crimes should be sent back, while those who abide by Pakistani laws should be granted relief.