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Thousands of Afghans return home as Pakistan launches crackdown on illegal migrants

Thousands of Afghans return home as Pakistan launches crackdown on illegal migrants

- Undocumented Afghans leaving Pakistan voluntarily, minister in southwestern Balochistan province tells Anadolu

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA) - Thousands of Afghan nationals are returning to their home country as Pakistanhas launched a crackdown against illegal migrants.

According to Pakistani officials, around 10,000 people crossed the borders on Wednesday and thousands more were waiting at checkpoints on Thursday.

"Some 35,000 people have already left the country and up to 10,000 people will cross the Chaman border every day," Jan Achakzai, information minister in the southwestern Balochistan province, told Anadolu, referring to a border point between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He claimed undocumented Afghans were leaving the country voluntarily.

Videos posted on social media showed a large numbers of Afghan refugees along with children and women waiting at the Torkham and Chaman border crossings for identity verification before leaving.

Pakistan’s caretaker government had announced last month to deport all undocumented foreigners after Oct. 31.

The UN, human rights organizations and Afghanistan's Taliban-led interim administration had urged Pakistan to reverse its decision. But Islamabad said the government had no plan to extend the deadline and all foreigners would be deported regardless of their nationality.

Pakistan has been hosting a large number of Afghan refugees since the 1979 Soviet invasion of its northern neighbor.

According to the UN human rights office, more than 2 million undocumented Afghans were living in Pakistan, including at least 600,000 who left Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power in August 2021.

Meanwhile, the interim Afghan Taliban administration said it set up temporary camps to move the refugees to their home towns in Afghanistan.

"We have completed all preparations to facilitate our brothers and sisters who are coming back, established tent villages, hospitals and also arranged transport to take them to their home towns," Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson of the Taliban, told Anadolu.

According to him, the Taliban are providing them food and other facilities as well.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the group thanked all countries who hosted Afghan refugees for over 40 years, but asked "not to forcefully deport" them and grant enough time to relocate.

The administration also rejected claims that Afghans created problems for the security of the host countries.

Pakistani authorities had earlier said that out of 24 suicide attacks carried out this year, 14 were carried out by Afghan nationals.

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