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Pakistan speeds up Afghans' repatriation as deadline expires

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Pakistan opened more border centres on Friday (Nov 3)  to speed up the return of tens of thousands of undocumented Afghans, an official said, two days after a deadline to leave or face expulsion expired and ignoring pleas to give the plan a rethink.

Pakistan has brushed off calls from the United Nations, rights groups and Western embassies to reconsider expelling more than a million of 4 million Afghans in the country, saying they had been involved in militant attacks and crimes that undermined the security of the country. Afghanistan denies the accusations.

The UN refugee agency, the International Organisation for Migration and the UN Children’s Fund on Friday expressed concern for the safety of children and families affected by the expulsion, saying a humanitarian crisis was unfolding with winter on the way.

Mullah Hassan Akhund, prime minister in Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration, also expressed reservations.

“It is 100 per cent against all principles, come and talk face to face,” he said in a video-recorded statement.

Facilities at the main north-western border crossing of Torkham have been increased three times to cater for the rising number of returnees, said Abdul Nasir Khan, deputy commissioner for Khyber district.

“Everything is normal now as the returnees no longer need to wait in queues for hours,” he told Reuters.

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