Afghan refugees. IANS photo


Tensions are building up between Afghanistan and Pakistan over the harsh treatment being meted out to Afghan refugees recently. Pakistan is reportedly detaining Afghans who hold official UNHCR refugee status along with illegal entrants.

Recently, the consul of the Afghan government in Karachi, Abdul Jabar Takhari, said that many Afghan refugees suffering from illnesses are being held in the Karachi prison. Calling upon Pakistan to release the Afghan refugees, he said that one Faiz Mohammad has died from illness in the jail.

Tolo news quoted Takhari as saying: “I told the Ministry of Interior of Pakistan that he came here for treatment and is in a critical condition. But it has not paid any attention. Prior to this, three people have died.” Takhari says that 750 Afghan refugees are in prison in Pakistan, many with serious health conditions.

Pakistani authorities have reportedly rounded up hundreds of Afghan refugees and also jailed women and children.

Earlier this week scores of Afghan refugees protested in Pakistani capital Islamabad seeking better living conditions from both Pakistan as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Without recognition from the UN agency, they are not entitled to rights or shelter.

Pakistan’s current unstable conditions owing to rising violence, its conflicts with ethnic communities, shortage of food, spiralling fuel prices and power cuts has not made life easier for anyone in the country including Afghan refugees.

Though Pakistan has been holding millions of refugees due to the various wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, there was another influx in 2021 after the Taliban fighters seized power in Kabul in August of that year. With Pakistani security forces facing deadly attacks from the Pakistan Taliban or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which Pakistan claims is sheltered by the Taliban, Pakistan has initiated a crackdown on Afghan immigrants.

Pakistan has been repatriating undocumented Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan. Many of these include vulnerable communities like the Shia Hazaras who are subject to vicious violence by different militant groups in Afghanistan.

With the Taliban government objecting to the treatment of Afghan refugees and with no let-up in Pakistan’s harassment of the Afghans, relations between the two Islamic neighbours are on a downward spiral. IANS