Islamabad, Oct 31 (SocialNews.XYZ) As the deadline for voluntary return of all illegal immigrants in Pakistan, set by the government, comes to an end; hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals and their families are flooding the border areas and preparing for an uncertain future in their "unwelcoming" home country.
Pakistan government announced earlier this month that about 1.73 million illegal immigrants, referred to as aliens, majority of whom are Afghan nationals, should leave the country by November 1, failing which they will be arrested and forcefully deported back to their home country.
The decision has been widely criticised while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) gave repeated calls for the government to re-address the mass forceful deportation of millions of Afghan nationals, who fled Afghanistan in emergency situation and amid fears of persecution.
However, Pakistan government has stood firm on its decision, stating that it would not be giving any extension in the deadline and would start arresting illegal immigrants from all corners of the country after Wednesday.
This has left the fate of millions of Afghan in jeopardy, fear and uncertainty.
"We do not want to go back to Afghanistan. We fled because we were fearful of losing the lives of our loved ones. It was a war zone in Afghanistan when we left. Its still impossible to live there. But we are being forced to go back," said Amanullah Khan, head of a family of 12 persons, who fled Afghanistan when Afghan Taliban took over.
"We have nothing left to go back to in Afghanistan. People living there are facing serious issues. No education, No food... nothing... It seems like we are being punished and being thrown back in hell," said Tahir Khan, an un-registered Afghan refugee in Pakistan.
On the other hand, Pakistan has established a series of holding centres across the country in preparation for the deadline to facilitate the return of illegal immigrants in the country.
Till now, over 100,000 Afghan nationals have gone back to Afghanistan while about 400 others have moved to the UK.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed Pakistani authorities for using threats, abuse and detention to coerce Afghan asylum seekers without legal status to return to Afghanistan.
"Many Afghans at risk of being deported are awaiting resettlement to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada," HRW stated.
"Pakistan's announcement deadline for Afghans to return has led to detentions, beatings, and extortion, leaving thousands of Afghans in fear over their future. The situation in Afghanistan remains dangerous for many who fled, and deportation will expose them to significant security risks, including threats to their lives and well-being," said Fareshta Abbasi, Afghanistan researcher as Human Rights Watch.