Deportees from KP fear ‘alien life’ in Afghanistan

Published November 3, 2023
Nadra mobile vans parked outside a holding centre established for the illegal Afghans in Labour Colony, Peshawar. — White Star
Nadra mobile vans parked outside a holding centre established for the illegal Afghans in Labour Colony, Peshawar. — White Star

PESHAWAR: As authorities crack down on ‘illegal’ migrants, undocumented Afghan refugees born and bred in Pakistan but facing deportation fear that they’ll live like “aliens” in Afghanistan.

Most of these foreigners are leaving the country voluntarily but many imprisoned in the country over “petty crimes” are being transported to the border for repatriation.

Fifty-one such prisoners, mostly aged under 40, have been freed from the Peshawar Central Prison and seven from a prison in Lower Dir district.

Law-enforcement agencies shifted them all to Peshawar’s “holding area” put up in the Jumma Khan village for “scanning and collection of particulars.”

Younas, 21, told Dawn that though he was going to his “own” country, he would live there like an alien in absence of a home and loved ones.

He insisted that all his family members lived in Pakistan lawfully and his sisters were married to Pakistani nationals.

Looking at the huge “holding area” from inside a passenger van he boarded for Afghan border, the young refugee said he didn’t know how long Pakistan would take to issue him a visa to return.

He’d never expected deportation from Pakistan.

“I have no place to go and live there [Afghanistan]. Living there has never been an option for me. I will come back on a valid visa,” he said.

The refugee said his family belonged to Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

He was held by Pakistani police on return from Dubai, where he was employed, on leave for allegedly illegally entering the country two months ago.

Mr Younas spent two months behind bars.

Like others, Nadra officials collected his details and secured his fingerprints. He was later transported to a Pak-Afghan border crossing for deportation.

With undocumented Afghans continuing to return voluntarily, officials said it wasn’t an option for them to arrest illegal aliens, who wanted to leave the country.

“We will hold only those, who have gone into hiding and are refusing to follow orders to return,” a senior official told Dawn.

Officials said over 129,000 Afghan nationals without documentation had left the country.

They said as the border crossings were flooded with people wanting to cross into Afghanistan, the government had exempted women and children under the age of 14 years from biometric tests and scanning to facilitate their return.

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2023

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