Pakistan Hosts Thousands of Afghan Refugees Approved for Relocation

Pakistan is currently hosting a significant number of Afghan nationals who have been approved and accepted for relocation by Western nations. According to Foreign Office spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, at least 44,000 Afghans are still in Pakistan, awaiting their relocation. This situation highlights the ongoing challenges faced by Afghan refugees seeking a new life outside their war-torn country.

The exodus of Afghans from their homeland began in 2021 following the collapse of the NATO-backed Afghan government and the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul. Thousands fled, fearing reprisals from the new regime. Among those seeking refuge in Pakistan are 25,000 Afghans approved for relocation to the US, 9,000 accepted by Australia, 6,000 by Canada, 3,000 by Germany, and over 1,000 by the UK. Despite the lapse of almost three years since the Taliban’s takeover, these individuals remain in Pakistan, awaiting their relocation.

The Pakistani government has expressed concern over the slow pace of relocation and has urged Western nations to expedite the approval and visa issuance process. While Pakistan initially allowed fleeing Afghans to enter without hindrance, relations with the interim Kabul government have deteriorated due to concerns about Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants using Afghan soil to launch attacks on Pakistan.

Last year, Pakistan launched a crackdown on illegal aliens, mainly Afghans, resulting in the return of over half a million individuals to Afghanistan. However, the government has shown some flexibility towards registered Afghan refugees. On Wednesday, the Pakistani cabinet granted a one-year extension to registered Afghan refugees until June 30, 2025, providing a respite for those facing deportation. This decision comes after a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the visiting United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi.

The extension will apply to 1.45 million Afghan refugees whose Proof of Registration (PoR) cards were set to expire on June 30, 2024. This gesture demonstrates Pakistan’s commitment to providing temporary refuge for Afghan nationals while advocating for their timely relocation to their intended destinations.

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