KARACHI: A spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has warned that Afghan nationals living legally in Pakistan should not be “harassed or expelled”, Dawn.com reported on Sunday.

In an interview with DawnNewsTV last week, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif warned that any action in this regard could sour relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The PTI leader’s statement has come at a time when the government is planning to initiate the second phase of the repatriation drive to send nearly one million ‘documented’ Afghans back to their homeland.

The district authorities and police have been directed to map and collect data on their whereabouts across the country.

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

Barrister Saif says such actions could ‘foment hatred’ between Islamabad and Kabul

“During the first phase, we were tasked to identify illegal Afghans in KP, and they were deported”, he said.

“All Afghans without any documentation in KP have returned to Afghanistan.”

Barrister Saif noted 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.

He 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.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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