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Thousands of Afghans flood border before Pakistan deadline for expulsion

Afghan refugees gather at a makeshift tent after their arrival from Pakistan on November 2, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

Pakistan's northwestern border crossing is flooded with thousands of Afghans rushing to cross into Afghanistan.

 On Thursday chaotic scenes were witnessed at the Pakistan- Afghanistan border, a day after the government of Pakistan’s deadline for undocumented foreigners to leave or face expulsion expired.

A large number of Afghans rushed to the border in the past several days as the November 1 deadline approached and police began to open up dozens of centers to detain arrested Afghans.

"We are constantly in contact with them (Pakistani authorities) asking for more time. People must be allowed to return with dignity," the Taliban government's refugee minister Khalil Haqqani told AFP.

"They should not give Afghans a hard time, they should not make more enemies," he added.

Taliban authorities have set up a temporary processing center several kilometers from a border crossing. Camps for families with nowhere to go have also been established.

Over 129,000 have fled from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial home department said, while a total of 38,100 have crossed through Chaman in Balochistan province, border officials added.

More than 24,000 Afghans crossed into Afghanistan using the Torkham border crossing on Wednesday alone, Deputy Commissioner Khyber Tribal District Abdul Nasir Khan said.

"There were a large number waiting for clearance and we made extra arrangements to better facilitate the clearance process."

Trucks loaded with goods are seen as Afghan refugees head back to Afghanistan, at the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan, on October 30, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

More than 100 people were detained in one police operation in the mega city of Karachi on Thursday, while police rounded up 425 Afghans in Quetta, the city closest to the Chaman border crossing.

Pakistani authorities began rounding up undocumented foreigners, mostly Afghans, hours before the deadline. 

More than a million Afghans were asked to leave Pakistan or face arrest and forcible expulsion after Islamabad issued an abrupt order about the expulsion of illegal immigrants a month ago

The Pakistani government had said Afghans were involved in militant attacks and crimes in the country.

The United Nations and other human rights groups had asked Islamabad to reconsider its expulsion plan.

Of the more than 4 million Afghans living in Pakistan, the government estimates 1.7 million are illegally staying in the country.

Millions of Afghans fled their country when the US led its so-called “war on terror” pushing the country into war. Another exodus followed with the hurried withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan and the consequent Taliban takeover.

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