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More Afghan nationals leave Pakistan in April

ISLAMABAD: As of April 22, 2024, Pakistan has seen the return of over 542,981 Afghan nationals to their homeland, with the repatriation process ongoing.

Between April 13 and April 22, a total of 7,041 Afghan citizens, including 2,967 men, 1,834 women, and 2,240 children, voluntarily returned to Afghanistan within a ten-day period.

The repatriation efforts have included the return of 267 families, transported in 213 vehicles, to ensure their safe journey back to Afghanistan.

This concerted effort aims to tackle the challenge of illegal immigration while facilitating the voluntary return of Afghan nationals to their home country.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the KP government, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, emphasized the importance of treating Afghan nationals living legally in Pakistan with respect and without harassment or expulsion. He cautioned that such actions could severely strain relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While the government initiated a repatriation effort for what it termed as “undocumented aliens” in November last year, official figures on the number of Afghan nationals who have returned to Afghanistan are yet to be released. Unofficial estimates suggest that around half a million undocumented Afghans may have returned via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in the first round of repatriation.

Plans for a second phase to repatriate nearly one million documented Afghans are underway, with directives issued to district authorities and police to gather data on their whereabouts across the country.

Barrister Saif clarified that illegal Afghan migrants in KP had already been repatriated during the first phase, and no further action was being taken against legal Afghan residents. He stated that all undocumented Afghans in KP had been deported, and only those possessing Afghan Citizen Cards, in compliance with Pakistani law and international resolutions, remained.

The spokesperson revealed that the mapping process to identify legal Afghan residents in KP had shown a population of 359,000 in the province.

However, he stressed that no orders had been issued to take action against them, and any such action would be approached cautiously to avoid inciting animosity and distrust between the two countries.

Barrister Saif urged the federal government to handle the situation delicately to prevent exacerbating tensions and fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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