Karachi [Pakistan], September 29 (ANI): A recent crackdown on Afghan residents in Pakistan has sent shockwaves through the community, disrupting the lives of many, including young bride Wahida. Her wedding day was abruptly interrupted when her groom was arrested, a fate shared by hundreds of Afghans living in Pakistan, Dawn reported.
Wahida, a 20-year-old, now resides with her in-laws at the Afghan Muhajir aid camp in Karachi, but her husband-to-be, a registered refugee, remains in custody.
As per the latest United Nations data, there are approximately 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, with an additional 8,80,000 possessing legal status to reside in the country. Authorities claim that the recent crackdown specifically targets those lacking legal status, in response to escalating crime rates and inadequate immigration regulation, which strains resources.
Official police statistics indicate that at least 700 Afghans have been apprehended in Karachi alone since early September, a tenfold increase compared to August. Hundreds more have been detained in other cities. Afghans assert that these arrests have been indiscriminate, accusing the police of extortion and disregard for valid documentation. They point to a surge in anti-Afghan sentiment as economic challenges persist in Pakistani households and tensions escalate between Islamabad and Kabul's new Taliban-led government, according to Dawn.
Approximately 6,00,000 Afghans have arrived in Pakistan since the Taliban assumed power in Kabul in August 2021. Lawyers have noted that the police operation has been complicated by the expiration of registration cards for a large number of documented Afghans at the end of June, even though their legal status remains valid until the government rules on renewal.
Moniza Kakar, a lawyer, expressed her limitations in assisting undocumented Afghans and highlighted that those deported recently include not only the sick and impoverished but also human rights activists and female students. Karachi police reported over 1,800 deportations of Afghans last year and have already arrested nearly 1,700 in 2023, as reported by DawnHowever, Kakar, along with several other lawyers offering pro bono legal aid to Afghans, emphasized that the vast majority of those detained in this operation possess proper documentation, in contrast to past crackdowns where only about a quarter of detainees held valid papers.
The Afghan consul general, Syed Abdul Jabbar, lamented that Afghans in Pakistan are paying the price for disputes between Kabul and Islamabad. The situation remains tense, leaving many Afghan families in anguish and uncertainty about their loved ones' fate in Pakistan, Dawn reported. (ANI)