UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Munir Akram clarified to the UN Security Council on Wednesday that there were no forced deportations of Afghans from Pakistan.

Addressing a special Security Council session on Afghanistan, Ambassador Akram emphasised that characterising the protection environment for Afghans in Pakistan as unfavorable is inaccurate and offensive.

He stated that after Pakistan anno­unced its plan to enforce laws on illegal aliens, 500,000 undocumented Afghans voluntarily returned to Afghanistan. He noted 98 per cent of these returns were voluntary, with the remaining 2pc involving individuals engaged in terrorism, drug smuggling, or other crimes.

Ambassador Akram expressed displeasure with a UN report claiming an unfavorable protection environment in Pakistan, highlighting the country’s four-decade-long sheltering of almost five million Afghan refugees.

International community, Afghanistan reminded of their obligations towards each other

“Even today, over one million undocumented Afghans remain in Pakistan. They should return forthwith. We have made several exceptions for those with Afghan ID cards, POR cards, for those who may be ‘vulnerable’ if they return,” he said.

As the session began, the UN envoy for Afghanistan Roza Otunbayeva reiterated a call for the Taliban to lift restrictions on women and girls, warning of worsening human rights violations if the constraints persist.

She said that the recent arbitrary arrest of Afghan women for alleged Islamic dress code violations was having a chilling effect among the wider female population, “many of whom are now afraid to move in public”.

The UN envoy added, “The denial of women and girls’ access to education and work, and their removal from many aspects of public life, has caused immense harm to mental and physical health, and livelihoods.”

Humanitarian assistance

Ambassador Akram reminded the international community that it had an obligation to help the millions of destitute Afghans with the provision of unconditional humanitarian assistance. He also urged the global community to help revive the Afghan banking system and commercial activities, and create necessary conditions for the release of Afgh­anistan’s frozen assets to its Central Bank.

Pakistan also highlighted the need to implement the planned infrastructure and regional connectivity projects for Afghanistan, including the CASA-1000 electricity transmission project.

At the same time, the Afghan interim government was reminded that it too had an obligation to refrain from threats against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighbouring and other countries and to prevent terrorist attacks against them from the territory of Afghanistan. “The violation of these principles and norms is not in the immediate or long-term interests of Afghanistan,” Ambassador Akram said.

“Pakistan considers sustained engagement with the Afghan interim government to be essential to normalise the situation in Afghanistan.”

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2024

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