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Thursday May 30, 2024

Protesters tell govt to focus on elections, not deportations

By Our Correspondent
November 19, 2023
Members of the Joint Action Committee for Refugees (JAC) during a protest in front of the Karachi Press Club on November 18, 2023. — Facebook/Sijal Shafique
Members of the Joint Action Committee for Refugees (JAC) during a protest in front of the Karachi Press Club on November 18, 2023. — Facebook/Sijal Shafique

The Joint Action Committee for Refugees (JAC), a collective platform of civil society members, lawyers, and political and rights activists, on Saturday held a protest in front of the Karachi Press Club to demand that the caretaker government stop arresting and deporting Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan.

The organisers of the protest were of the view that since the announcement of forcing all unregistered persons in Pakistan to leave the country, police and other law enforcement agencies have been on an “abhorrent and unaccountable spree of harassment, intimidation, and illegal detentions of Afghans and Pakistani Pakhtuns”.

They said that since October, more than 300,000 people have been forced to leave the country they call home. Pakistan must recognise its role in “destabilising Afghanistan and putting the lives of millions at stake”, they added.

They also said Afghans would not have been displaced from their homes if Pakistan had “acted responsibly” in the past.

Today the Pakistani state must fix its moral compass and end the mass deportations of people who are an indelible part of this country’s social and cultural fabric, they added.

In a statement issued by JAC, its representatives said that with countless stories of “family separation, abuse and extortion, it is painfully apparent that Pakistan does not have the resources or capacity to trigger one of the largest forced migrations in South Asian history”.

“This ill-thought decision must be rectified immediately. Pakistan must stop the deportations. It must stop the illegal detentions. It must provide the right to a free trial, which is enshrined in our constitution. The committee will continue its fight for refugee rights across the country.”

Separately, a delegation of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) joined the JAC protest at the press club against the deportation of Afghan refugees from Karachi.

Addressing the protesters, NDM Sindh Chairman Muhammad Sher Khan said the government’s focus should be on conducting elections to let the people decide the fate of the country, rather than formulating sensitive policies on foreign affairs.

Khan expressed concerns over the forced eviction of Afghan refugees, saying that it is a blatant violation of human rights and international laws. He asked how people who have been residing in the country for 40 years can be arbitrarily declared illegal.

He said that the right to make such crucial decisions on foreign policy lies with the duly elected parliament. He called for an end to the “inhumane” treatment of Afghan refugees and urged to halt the ongoing “unjust” actions against them.