As Pakistan’s caretaker government decided to carry out mass deportations of Afghan refugees causing a humanitarian crisis with far-reaching consequences for the region. While the officials claimed the reason for doing this is security concerns as the driving force behind the move, a closer examination reveals that the policy is rooted in complex geopolitical dynamics and a complicated relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan has long threatened sweeping actions against Afghan refugees, but the decision to enforce mass deportations now seems to be influenced by a combination of factors. Evolving perceptions of the terrorist threat within Pakistan, particularly from the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), play a significant role. The TTP’s resurgence and aggressive activities along the border have strained
Pakistan’s patience, prompting a serious response. However, the mass deportations are not solely a measure of self-defense against a perceived security threat as they appear to be a strategic move to pressure Kabul into control and ban the TTP’s activities. Pakistan initially welcomed the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, as Pakistan’s government thought they could work together to handle the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP). But things didn’t go as planned. The TTP became stronger again, and it caused problems between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They tried to talk to the TTP to sort things out, but those talks didn’t go well. The TTP started attacking Pakistan more, and many people got hurt. Afghanistan didn’t do much to stop the TTP, making Pakistan upset. This tension set the stage for Pakistan’s decision to send lots of Afghan refugees back home. Sending many Afghan refugees back home is the most significant action Pakistan has taken so far. They decided to do this because of a big attack by the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) near Chitral in September.
Pakistan is worried about security, but this decision has huge humanitarian consequences. It could create a really bad situation for millions of Afghans going back as well as for Pakistan in the future. The timing makes it even worse because Afghanistan is already dealing with social and environmental problems such as earthquakes, economic problems, and sanctions. Altogether, it’s creating a really serious crisis. The Taliban weren’t ready for a lot of people coming back to Afghanistan. They asked Pakistan to give them more time to get ready for this and they have criticized the decision to take away returnees’ cash and belongings as a violation of their rights. The establishment of temporary camps by the Taliban government is a reactive measure, but the harsh winter and dire conditions pose additional challenges.
The policy of making people go back to their home country not only puts them in a really bad situation but also creates big security problems for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. When people return, they lose their things and ways to make a living, which can make it hard for them to fit back into Afghan society. This difficulty might lead to problems in society and make some people more likely to turn to crime in Pakistan as hate for their situation or oppose the Taliban which will also give rise to terrorism and other activities in Pakistan. The world needs to pay attention to this growing crisis, even with all the other problems happening globally. Countries outside of Pakistan, especially those that can influence what happens in Islamabad, should push Pakistan to think again about sending people back home. They should ask for a more reasonable schedule, slow and careful returns, and follow the rules about what’s legal and humane. Giving money and help with things like figuring out who should go back is also crucial.
The fact that Pakistan is making Afghans go back is worrying and needs quick action. The whole world, including the United States a superpower, the European Union, and other Western countries, should speed up the process of finding new places for Afghan refugees who might be in danger if they go back. Even though the Taliban and the returnees had problems before, the Taliban need to do their part to keep these people safe and treat them with respect. Everyone needs to work together right away to stop more suffering and problems in this part of the world that’s already struggling.
The writer is a student of Politics and IR