Image description: An illustration of a line of refugees standing in line under a sign reading Deadline. End ID
Image description: An illustration of a line of refugees standing in line under a sign reading Deadline. End ID

Illustration by Dulce Pop-Bonini

1.7 Million Afghan Refugees Given a Month to Leave Pakistan

“We have never been to Afghanistan… We would be strangers to the people and they would be unknown to us. We do not have a house to live in our native village.” Rizwan Khan, 25, told Reuters.

Nov 13, 2023

On Oct. 3, Pakistan’s government ordered all undocumented foreigners to leave by Nov. 1, warning of arrest and deportation after the date. Allegedly, this move only targets undocumented migrants, directly impacting 1.7 million Afghan refugees who have no documentation. However, TIME Magazine reports that Afghans with legal documentation have been affected by the enforcement as well.
In interviews with Reuters, arrested Afghan migrants have complained of mishandling by the authorities despite having legal documents or having lived in Pakistan for decades.
Al Jazeera has reported that it encountered over 10 families at the border with proper documentation that were still being made to leave.
Additionally, in an interview with TIME Magazine, Atta Nasib, a professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, stated that proper documentation for refugees who arrived following the 2021 Taliban takeover has been impossible as the UNHCR stopped issuing registration cards to Afghan refugees.
The Pakistani Government also approved the creation of numerous deportation centers in advance of the given expulsion deadline and began arresting people on Nov. 1, transferring them to these centers. Reuters crew were not allowed access inside.
“I am tired. How many times do I have to move countries to protect myself and my family?” 47-year-old Khair Muhammad told Al Jazeera. Muhammad and his family first sought refuge in Pakistan during Afghanistan’s civil war in 1991, returned to Afghanistan in 2004, and went back to Pakistan in 2021 after the Taliban took control.
Many Afghans facing deportation share similar stories. Sixty-three-year-old Najmuddin Torjan, interviewed by the New York Times, has been living undocumented in Pakistan for 40 years with his family. He comments: “I tried my best in these 40 years to build a life … It’s difficult. Now I’m starting again from zero.”
“The cruelty and the humiliation by the government and police are what I cannot forget … when our family was leaving, our neighbors hugged us and cried with us. How can you push somebody out who knows no other country, no other language, no other life?” said Rasul to [Al Jazeera] (; Rasul has worked as a security guard for 29 years in Pakistan.
Mehraneh Saffari is Senior News Editor. Email them at
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