Taliban officials expressed concerns over Pakistan’s proposal to expel hundreds of thousands of Afghan migrants on Wednesday and refuted Islamabad’s claims that its citizens were behind a string of suicide bombings in Pakistan.
Around 1.3 million Afghans are registered refugees in Pakistan and 880,000 more have legal status to remain, according to the latest United Nations figures.
But caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said Tuesday a further 1.7 million Afghans were in Pakistan illegally, giving a November 1 deadline to return home or face deportation.
The order comes as Pakistan grapples with a rise in attacks the government blames on militants operating from Afghanistan, a charge Kabul routinely denies.
“Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan´s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them,” Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on the social media site X.
Bugti claimed Afghan nationals were responsible for 14 of 24 suicide attacks in Pakistan since January.
“We deny all these claims because Afghans have migrated to other countries for their safety, their security,” said Abdul Mutalib Haqqani, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation.
“It´s natural when someone migrates to another country for his safety, he would never want insecurity there,” he told AFP.
Legions of Afghans have migrated to neighbouring Pakistan over decades of conflict during the Soviet invasion, the following civil war and the US-led occupation.
And 600,000 have arrived since the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August 2021 and imposed their austere version of Islamic law.
Taliban authorities have been trying to tempt back those who left, despite the nation suffering from a massive scaleback of aid following the collapse of the US-backed government.
Rights monitors have also reported reprisal killings and disappearances.
“Internally work is underway to ensure the capacity for Afghans coming back to the country so that they live in their country in a peaceful atmosphere,” Haqqani told AFP.