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Pakistan orders Afghan asylum seekers out of country by November

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Pakistan’s government has ordered 1.7 million unauthorized Afghan asylum seekers to leave the country by November due to a spike in militant attacks along the two countries’ border this year.

Pakistan has blamed border crossing attacks on Afghanistan-based operatives, which are denied by the Taliban regime. This has fueled resentment in Islamabad, which announced a crackdown on “illegal” migrants. Pakistan has taken in hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, particularly since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021.

About 1.3 million Afghans are registered as refugees, while another 880,000 have received legal status to remain. However, another 1.7 million people are in the country “illegally”, according to Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti.

He said those people would have to leave the country by the end of the month, either voluntarily or through forced deportation. He also announced a taskforce aimed at identifying and confiscating private businesses and assets of “illegal” Afghans in the country. In response, Afghan officials in Pakistan said local authorities had already begun rounding up Afghans, both with and without legal status to remain.