Speakers at a workshop warned that if migrants from Afghanistan who have entered Pakistan in recent months were not helped soon, a humanitarian tragedy could occur.
They urged the international community to take note of the movement across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and find some way to help migrants. They underlined that Pakistan too needs to have a clear policy in this regard.
The workshop was organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Verso Consulting in Islamabad to highlight the plight of the Afghan Migrants and refugees, including those who have been in Pakistan for some time, and those who have entered recently and are largely undocumented.
The workshop was attended by representatives of local NGOs, human right activists and some Afghan migrants. Speakers said that after the Taliban takeover of August 2021, a number of Afghans entered Pakistan, often after selling their possessions and liquidating their savings. Some of these migrants came on short term or medical visas, while others crossed the border illegally.
Either they are unable or unwilling to go back to Afghanistan, and are living in Pakistan illegally. There are an estimated 275,000 persons at the minimum.
Pakistan has so far never carried out forcible repatriation, and such a move would not be advisable from a humanitarian perspective, while also being contrary to international law.
Pakistan needs to formulate a policy to deal with these people, either by issuing temporary resident permits or some other means. In the longer run, Pakistan needs to develop a policy and legislative framework to cover refugees and asylum seekers in general.