KP government’s spokesperson Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif has said that Afghan nationals living legally in Pakistan should not be “harassed or expelled”, warning that any action in this regard could sour relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The government launched the first round of repatriation of what it called “undocumented aliens” in November last year.

No official data has been released as to how many of the estimated 1.7m undocumented Afghans have left for their country since November 2023, though the figure likely fell hugely short of what is now being considered a grossly exaggerated number.

But according to informed sources, the total number of undocumented Afghans who have returned to Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in the first round stands at around the half million-mark.

The second phase of the repatriation drive to send nearly one million ‘documented’ Afghans back to their homeland is in the works, with directives to district authorities and police to map and collect data of their whereabouts across the country, documents have revealed.

“We have already started the mapping process,” Abid Majeed, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s additional chief secretary, confirmed to Dawn in March, adding that the deadline for this process was April 30.

During an interview on Dawn News programme Doosra Rukh on Friday, Barrister Saif was asked about the planned second wave of Afghan deportations and how many still remained within KP.

The PTI leader said that all illegal Afghan migrants in KP had already been repatriated, and that no action was currently underway against legal Afghan residents.

“During the first phase, we were tasked to identify illegal Afghans in KP and they were deported”, he added. “All Afghans without any documentation in KP have returned to Afghanistan.”

Barrister Saif stated that the only Afghans left in the province were those in possession of Afghan Citizen Cards, in accordance with Pakistani law and international resolutions from bodies like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

“The federal government has only tasked us to track how many legal Afghans are in KP. Our mapping has shown that 359,000 live in the province”, he said, adding that no orders to take action against anyone have been issued.

“If we are instructed to expel them (legal Afghans), then we will talk [to the authorities]. Deporting illegal Afghans was justified, but we cannot harass or target Afghans living here legally”, he said.

The barrister warned that any action against legal Afghans would “foment hatred, misunderstanding and mistrust between us and Afghanistan.”

“The federal government should approach this situation delicately,” he added.

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