Kabul — Taliban-appointed defense minister, Muhammad Yaqoob Mujahid last week has issued a warning to Pakistan, stating that the country will reap what it sows.
This comes as the Pakistani Taliban intensifies their offensive, attempting to win the “hearts and minds” of Afghans.
Abdullah Khan, the managing director at the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, has expressed concerns that some Afghans may join the Taliban and engage in violence against Pakistan.
Pakistan has long provided refuge to approximately 1.7 million Afghans, many of whom fled during the Soviet occupation from 1979 to 1989. Additionally, over half a million individuals fled Afghanistan during the Taliban’s recent seizure of power in the final weeks of the U.S. and NATO withdrawal.
Khan highlighted the fact that many Afghans have been residing in Pakistan for decades, treating it as if it were their own country.
Regarding the forced returns, Khan argued that if they were inevitable, the Afghan nationals should have been given sufficient time to wind up their businesses, cancel their children’s school admissions, and provide notice to their employers before heading back to Afghanistan.
However, the Pakistani government has recently conducted a crackdown on undocumented migrants, resulting in mass deportations to Afghanistan.
Analysts and experts have warned that these actions risk radicalizing those who are forced out of the country, often returning to deplorable conditions in their homeland.
In recent weeks, over 250,000 Afghans have left Pakistan as authorities rounded up, arrested, and expelled foreign nationals without proper documentation. While the government asserts that the crackdown targets all individuals residing illegally in the country, the majority affected are Afghans, who constitute a significant portion of the foreign population in Pakistan.
Every day, thousands of individuals without proper documentation are crossing the border into Afghanistan, often with minimal belongings, enduring harsh conditions until they can be relocated within a country they left in search of a better life.
Zahid Hussain, an analyst of militancy and author, warns that mistreatment and forced deportations could fuel hatred for Pakistan and potentially lead to the radicalization of affected Afghans. Hussain believes that the government’s flawed policy will further strain relations between the two sides and result in a new “wave of hate.”
The forced expulsions of Afghan nationals have raised concerns about potential radicalization, strained bilateral relations, and the exacerbation of animosity towards Pakistan. It is crucial for both countries to address these issues and find sustainable solutions that prioritize human rights, fair treatment, and peaceful coexistence.