Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to launch a major operation to evict thousands of illegal Afghans from the provincial capital Peshawar, a senior official said on Saturday.
The move by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) government came amid the ongoing deportation of illegal Afghan nationals residing in Pakistan. The crackdown has so far forced about 340,000 Afghans in recent weeks to leave Pakistan after spending years in the neighbouring country.
“The KPK Provincial Government has decided to launch a grand operation for the eviction of illegal Afghans from this northwestern city of Peshawar,” said the official.
Pakistan’s caretaker government has previously said security concerns were behind the deportation order. Islamabad has claimed that Afghan nationals had carried out 14 of the 24 major terrorist attacks that have taken place in the country this year. However, the Taliban-led government in Kabul has rejected Pakistan’s claim.
On Friday, a joint meeting of Deputy Commissioner Peshawar Fahd Wazir and Senior Superintendent of Police of Operations department in Peshawar Kashif Abbasi chaired a special meeting to discuss the issue and made a foolproof plan for evictions of the illegal Afghans.
The Peshawar district Administration and police set up special teams under the supervision of divisional SPs to evict the illegal Afghans from the Provincial capital Peshawar.
The special teams have been provided with complete lists and data on the illegal Afghans residing in Peshawar.
The teams would arrest Afghan nationals without documents and would shift them to Juma Khan Holding Camp Nasir Bagh from where they would be deported to their country via the Torkham border.
According to officials, the Afghans holding Proof of Registration and Afghan Citizen Cards have been exempted from deportation and special teams have been formed for verification of their documents.
Many Afghans who have been in Pakistan for decades say they should be given more time, as they have no home in Afghanistan. Afghans say they do not know how they will start a new life from scratch.
An estimated 1.7 million Afghans were living in Pakistan illegally when the crackdown was launched last month by the government.
Afghanistan has set up a commission in Kabul to deal with repatriations from Pakistan. Bilal Karimi, the spokesman for the refugee commission of Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration, said so far 340,608 Afghans have returned.
Currently, the World Health Organisation is providing health facilities to Afghans returning through the border crossings at Torkham in northwestern Pakistan and Chaman in the southwest.
In a statement on Thursday, the WHO said the “sudden and increased flux of such returnees, along with other related factors, poses significant public health concerns”.
It also warned of the risk of disease outbreaks and transmission of wild poliovirus at the points where Afghans are entering the country.
The WHO also appealed for USD 10 million to provide health services targeting 700,000 Afghan returnees.
The latest development also days after the UN human rights chief Volker Turk said in a statement he was alarmed by reports that the arbitrary expulsion of Afghan nationals from Pakistan has been accompanied by abuse, including ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, destruction of property and personal belongings and extortion.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)