November 1, 2023
The deadline for illegal Afghan refugees was November 1, and as the deadline has approached, the ‘haven’s gates have also slammed shut for those seeking refuge in Pakistan from the Taliban regime. Tales of despair from those leaving Pakistan are emerging from across the country, shedding light on the lack of sympathy from the government of Pakistan.
Zakia, a resident of Loghar province in Afghanistan, has been living in Pakistan since 2014 with her three sons and a daughter. Her harrowing journey to Pakistan was driven by the abduction of her husband and young son by the Taliban. Despite holding a card issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Zakia and her family live in constant fear, as the government of Pakistan does not recognize their refugee status.
“I did not come here of my own accord, but I migrated under compulsion after the abduction of my husband and son,” she says while speaking to Voicepk. “Now, if I am sent back, I am afraid that the Taliban will kill my sons because my husband had worked in the Afghan Ministry of Defense. Even if I am sent back, how will I live there since the Taliban behind me set fire to our house and destroyed it?”
Zakia’s one-room house in Pakistan has been her family’s refuge for the past six years, but now her landlord is demanding that they vacate the premises.”I am very worried about where we will go if we are evicted from this house, but my landlord does not listen to me. He says that it is the government’s order to evacuate the house for Afghan refugees. Time is ticking, and whenever there is a knock at the door, it seems as if it’s the police. They will come and evict us, and I’ll be gone,” Zakia lamented.
Her son, Naqeeb, also expressed his fears about returning to Afghanistan. “My future is connected with Pakistan because it will be impossible to survive in the conditions in Afghanistan,” with a heavy heart, Naqeeb opened up with Voicepk.
Khalid Noori, an Afghan journalist who entered Pakistan with a visa in 2022, shared a similar tale of danger and uncertainty.
“A week after the Taliban came to power, I started getting threatening calls, and they said that they would kill me. Along with my family, we hid in various places, and when the visa was issued, we entered Pakistan.”
Despite having legal documentation, Noori still lives in fear of deportation. “It is impossible for us to go back because the Taliban know my face and voice very well, and they know that I am against their ideology. For me to go back to Afghanistan would be tantamount to committing suicide. I swear to God.”
Noori also revealed a chilling detail about his son’s abduction by the Taliban. “The Taliban kidnapped my 17-year-old son and said that he is a member of Daesh. Can we live like this in Afghanistan?”
He appealed to the government of Pakistan to grant humanitarian asylum to those who do not have documents and enter Pakistan illegally.
“My only appeal to Pakistan is to reconsider its policy and not send back those people who came to Pakistan without visas because if they return, the Taliban will kill them 100%. The Taliban may say anything, but we know they never keep their promises.”
As Afghan refugees like Zakia and Khalid Noori live in constant fear for their lives, the issue of their status and security remains a pressing concern that requires international attention and solutions.