South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) , a regional network of human rights defenders, condemns the decision of the Government of Pakistan made on 3 October to expel migrants who have entered illegally within a month. Pakistan’s caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti has stated that those who defy this order will have to face mass arrest and forced deportation.  The majority of this undocumented migrant population entails an estimated 1.7 million Afghan refugees who have fled Afghanistan against numerous threats to their lives in the recent past. 

SAHR is deeply concerned that this order will negatively affect the Afghan refugees currently living in Pakistan. It is also reported that in the recent past, the Government of Pakistan has been preventing the entry of Afghan nationals into the country. However, a recent judgement from the Islamabad High Court has declared that an asylum seeker “can’t be incarcerated as Pakistani law recognises the right to asylum”. 

It is reported that the cordial relations between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been strained due to the violence incurred by Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan.  This militant group is said to have links to the hardline Taliban Sunni militants who took over the governance of Afghanistan in 2021. The Government of Pakistan had recently said that Afghan nationals had been responsible for the majority of suicide bombings in the country in 2023 which amount to 14 incidents out of 24. 

As soon as the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan in August 2021 and threatened by the severe intimidation and harassment from the Taliban, many Afghan nationals including government officials, politicians, law enforcement officials, human rights activists, academics and media personnel were compelled to leave the country. In addition, many people started leaving the country to survive the dreadful humanitarian crisis that was unravelling. The Taliban since have restricted women and girl children’s right to education, employment and mobility among other actions that violate rights and freedoms of the people. 

Therefore, SAHR strongly calls upon the Government of Pakistan to rescind the decision to expel undocumented migrants as it affects the Afghan refugees living in Pakistan adversely. It also emphasises that even though Pakistan is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, it has an obligation under customary International laws to protect refugees and asylum seekers. 

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights

Dr. Roshmi Goswami
Co-Chair person

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu
Bureau Member