Maliciously Unhappy Human Rights Protectors

Most of the Afghan illegal immigrants are portraying Pakistan’s screening-out plan for illegal immigrants as 'callous and unjust.'

3 mins read
Afghan nationals walk along a fenced corridor after crossing into Pakistan through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 28, 2021 following the Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. [Photo: AFP]

From the US to the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, and Saudi Arabia, no country allows anyone to stay as an immigrant without official documentation. Staying without papers in any country is considered a serious crime worldwide. Recently, when Pakistan announced a strict action plan against all illegal immigrants, a very strange and illogical wave of resentment simply ‘haunted’ the attention of some specific human rights organizations worldwide. It seems that Pakistan has done something illegal and unethical by planning against the illegal immigrants in the country. It is something very strange that none of these human rights organizations liked to raise a voice against the recent shocking increase in the number of attacks on Pakistan’s security forces, military installations, and the lives and properties of innocent citizens. Particularly in the months of October and November 2023, a very mysterious increase has been noticed in terrorist activities in Pakistan, indicating that the ‘forcefully imposed’ war on terror has yet not come to an end in Pakistan.

This recent increase in terrorist activities in Pakistan seems connected with some specific security measures taken by the government of Pakistan. According to experts on regional security affairs, the decision to send back all illegal immigrants to their respective countries is also one of those measures. A large number of these illegal immigrants are from Afghanistan. Speaking specifically of the Afghan refugees, more than three decades ago, Pakistan provided shelter to millions from war-stricken Afghanistan simply on humanitarian grounds. Providing shelter to refugees from a war-stricken area is neither illegal nor uncommon; it happens so many times worldwide. However, the case with the Afghan refugees is somewhat different. Under the guise of Afghan refugees, countless illegal immigrants from other countries also succeeded in seeking shelter in Pakistan. These illegal immigrants included a large number of criminals and terrorists, creating significant law and order problems for Pakistan. Moreover, they added significantly to the financial burden that the government of Pakistan has already been facing due to them.

Currently, there are more than 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees in Pakistan, according to an official report issued by Pakistani authorities. About 1.7 million of them are staying here undocumented. A significant addition to the total number of Afghan immigrants already living in Pakistan was noticed in 2021 when the Taliban took over the country; this number mounts to more than 600,000. Certainly, such a large number is proving to be a huge burden on Pakistan’s already shattering economy. When the warlike situation ended in Afghanistan a few years back and the Taliban took over control of the country, it was expected that most refugees would love to go back to their homeland because there were no more foreign forces ruling over their country. However, the situation proved altogether different; none of the Afghan refugees desired to go back home, even though things are far better there under Taliban control. It is because of the peace and prosperity in Afghanistan that today the Afghanistan Cricket Team has become a challenge to many recognized and well-placed cricket teams worldwide.

Considering all these pros and cons, the government of Pakistan chalked out a plan to send back all Afghan citizens to their country, focusing initially on the illegal immigrants. In the first week of October 2023, in a meeting of the apex committee on the National Action Plan, it was decided that no illegal Afghan immigrant would be allowed to stay in Pakistan after 30th October 2023. After that date, they would be forcibly deported to Afghanistan by the law enforcement agencies of Pakistan. It was a high-profiled meeting attended by the army chief, federal ministers, provincial chief ministers, and heads of all civil and military security agencies. It was also decided in the meeting that initially, the main focus would be on repatriation of at least 1.7 million illegal Afghan nationals to their homeland. Moreover, it was also clarified that the decided screening plan is not only for Afghan immigrants; it is for all those living in Pakistan without proper documentation. The decisions were officially conveyed to the media by the caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti in a press conference. Initially, the announcement made by the government spokesman was not taken seriously by the illegal immigrants, but when on 1st November, the government of Pakistan started taking strict action against them, the situation began to change rapidly.

Some ‘worried for nothing’ pseudo-human rights caretakers are expressing their resentment on Pakistan’s strict implementation of the expulsion plan for illegal immigrants. Such ‘philosophers’ are ignoring the fact that, despite repeated warnings, only about 200,000 refugees have yet voluntarily returned to their homeland Afghanistan. This number includes at least 5,085 Afghans who had no legal documentation for their stay in Pakistan. Most of the Afghan illegal immigrants are portraying Pakistan’s screening-out plan for illegal immigrants as ‘callous and unjust.’ The fact is that there is nothing illegal, immoral, or against international ethics in Pakistan’s plan of screening out all illegal immigrants, including immigrants from Afghanistan. Approaching different media outlets and social media forums to defame and slander Pakistan is unethical and immoral. Pakistan’s decision to send back the illegal immigrants is in no way a violation of basic human rights. It is strange that these self-claimed human rights ‘protectors’ never raise their voices against the atrocities committed against innocent Kashmiris in the illegally Indian-occupied valley of Kashmir. Their participation in a planned movement against Pakistan seems mysterious and malicious.

Ali Sukhanver

The writer is an Associate Professor of English at Govt College of Science, Multan

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