The acting Commerce Minister of the Taliban met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister in Islamabad this week. The discussion focused on trade matters and the repatriation of Afghan citizens expelled by Pakistan, addressing how these individuals could bring back cash and assets to Afghanistan.
The meeting occurred shortly after Pakistan justified the expulsion of over a million undocumented Afghans, citing the Taliban-led administration’s alleged failure to act against armed fighters using Afghanistan as a base for attacks in Pakistan. Taliban representatives argue that the attacks are an internal concern for Pakistan and have urged Islamabad to cease the deportation of Afghan citizens.
According to a statement from Afghanistan’s embassy in Islamabad, the discussions centered on bilateral trade, including the resolution of stranded goods of Afghan traders at Karachi port, as well as the seamless transfer of Afghan refugees’ properties back to Afghanistan and related issues.
Afghan nationals returning to Afghanistan have reported limitations on transferring cash and property from Pakistan, where they had established businesses and homes over many years. Pakistan, citing security concerns, announced the expulsion of all undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of Afghans, starting November 1. Despite calls from the United Nations, rights groups, and Western embassies to reconsider, Pakistan proceeded with the move. Government data indicates approximately 4.4 million Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan, with 1.7 million lacking valid documents.
Three more border crossings opened
On Monday, Pakistan opened three additional border crossings to facilitate the swift deportation of Afghan individuals residing in the country without legal authorization, according to officials. Over the past few weeks, nearly 300,000 Afghans have departed Pakistan as authorities began detaining and expelling foreign nationals lacking proper documentation after the October 31 deadline for voluntary departure. The expulsions primarily impact Afghans, the largest foreign demographic in Pakistan, prompting disapproval from the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and human rights groups.
The caretaker Information Minister of Baluchistan province, Jan Achakzai announced that the count of border crossings utilized for the deportation of thousands of Afghans has increased to five with the opening of new facilities.
International aid organizations have recorded disordered and desperate situations among Afghans returning from Pakistan. Concerns have been raised about the challenging conditions confronting many recently returned Afghans who have limited resources, particularly as the cold winter season commences. Reports indicate that numerous individuals are residing in cramped shelters near the border, managed by NGOs and Taliban authorities.
In the two years since the Taliban assumed control in Afghanistan, there has been a notable increase in violence against Pakistani security forces and civilians. The majority of these attacks have been attributed to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a distinct but closely allied militant group to the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan frequently accuses the Afghan Taliban of sheltering militants from groups like the TTP—a claim denied by the Taliban. Pakistan points out that Afghans lacking permanent legal status are allegedly involved in some of these attacks.
For decades, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees, with the majority arriving during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation. Following the recent Taliban takeover, more than half a million Afghans fled Afghanistan to seek refuge in Pakistan.