No Birthright Citizenship: Pakistan Reportedly Deporting Afghan Refugees Born in Country

Muhammed Semih Ugurlu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Islamabad’s deportation sweep targeting Afghan refugees is reportedly resulting in the removal of individuals who are born and raised in Pakistan, a move that ignores so-called birthright citizenship conferred by the country’s immigration laws.

The Los Angeles Times (LA Times) notes that Islamabad is deporting many Afghan refugees to a country they had never known.

Many Afghans are reportedly considered stateless in the eyes of Pakistani law, which states, “Every person born in Pakistan … shall be a citizen of Pakistan by birth.”

The LA Times points out:

At least 2 million Afghans live in neighboring Pakistan, but even those born there have little legal protection. An estimated 1.4 million of those Afghans are registered with the government as refugees, and Pakistan has given them until June 30 to leave the country. The government has set such deadlines before — only to extend them — but it’s unclear if it will grant yet another extension.

Violent conditions in Afghanistan, largely attributed to the Taliban, force many of the deported refugees to leave the country again and seek shelter elsewhere, particularly in Europe.

The LA Times reports:

Seven out of 10 Afghan refugees who return home are forced to flee again due to violence, a new survey by the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre found, echoing reports by human rights groups that are asking the European Union to stop returning the refugees to a country that is still in the throes of war.

Early this year, the United Nations revealed that 3,438 Afghans were killed and 7,015 wounded in 2017, marking a 9 percent decrease from 2016, described as the deadliest year since the international body began keeping records in 2009.

Islamabad increasingly blames Afghan refugees for fueling terrorism across Pakistan.

Sartaj Aziz, a top foreign affairs adviser under the administration of deposed Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, proclaimed in June 2016 that Afghan refugee camps on Pakistani soil are serving as “safe havens for terrorists.”

Tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan have worsened in recent days as Kabul’s ally the United States continues to deny security aid to Islamabad over its reluctance to combat terrorist groups in the region, namely the Afghan Taliban and its Haqqani Network allies.

One day before Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s scheduled visit to Kabul on Friday, Afghanistan accused Pakistan of launching air strikes that caused “huge financial damages” in its Kunar border province, reports Gandhara, a component of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Islamabad reportedly dismissed Afghanistan’s accusation as “baseless.”

“In a statement, Islamabad’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Pakistan’s security forces were countering militant groups based in Afghanistan that launched attacks across the border,” notes Gandhara.


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