Afghan Reparations Collective (ARC)

What’s Been Happening? Millions at Risk.

The government of Pakistan announced a deadline for all “undocumented Afghans” – essentially Afghans seeking refuge but denied this status by the government – to leave the country by November 1, 2023. The demands were qualified through unproven accusations of Afghans being involved in “terrorism.”

The government of Pakistan’s demand for Afghans to leave the country has put all Afghans at risk. There are multiple eye-witness accounts and media reports of:

These experiences of being criminalised and discriminated against are not new for Afghans in Pakistan and directly emerge from discriminatory British colonial laws, wars, and border-making in Afghanistan and adjacent geographies, which were inherited and not challenged by the post-independence governments of Pakistan. This has also meant that the demands for Afghans to leave Pakistan are linked to Pakistan’s, often hostile, relationship with its own ethnic minorities, specifically those who reside in/originate from areas that border Afghanistan – Pashtuns, Baloch, and Hazaras, who also have a long history of facing discrimination and who find when Afghans are being forced to leave Pakistan that their right to belong in Pakistan is also questioned. For example, Pakistani Pashtuns have been stripped of their citizenship status after being accused of being Afghans – a process that is managed by biometric computerised ID cards – and are burdened with the task to  prove they are “native” to Pakistan through lengthy bureaucratic processes.

Who Are Pakistan’s Afghans?

Pakistan is home to over 4 million Afghans, which, in legal terms, includes Afghans denied a legal plan and settlement status, registered refugees, visa holders, and others. Afghans of all ethnicities live in Pakistan. After August 2021, conservative accounts estimate that 600,000 Afghans also sought refuge in Pakistan – some of whom are considered to be “in transit” and awaiting relocation to countries such as the U.K, U.S., Canada, Germany; the remainder fall into the category of Afghans without any legal status and with no governmental institution and/or limited support from international refugee and humanitarian organisations.

The division of Afghans into different legal categories is intentionally ambiguous, inconsistent, and politically duplicitous. People who should be classified as refugees are not. The government of Pakistan’s call to deport what it calls “undocumented” Afghans, is a way to refuse to include newer claimants of refuge – who, in practice, are not only those moving to the country after 2021, but include all post-2001 Afghans entering the country. From the late 1970s until the mid-2000s, Afghans were afforded the status of refugees through prima facie (on first encounter) status – meaning any Afghan who entered Pakistan was considered a refugee. But in the post-2001 the War on Terror years, when war was taking place in Afghanistan, led by the U.S. with Pakistan as a key ally,  the U.S. and its allies claimed the war against the Taliban was a success and Afghanistan was a “safe country” –  meaning claims for refuge were null and void.

The more important conversation the Pakistan state needs to have is how to, not why,  engage in long-term and constructive legal and socio-economic efforts  for the inclusion of Afghans, which must include, as a minimum, pathways to permanent residency and/or citizenship.

The vast majority of Afghans – at least 90 percent – were either born in Pakistan or have lived in the country for forty years. These millions of persons have, quite literally, built the villages, towns, and cities – and a shared culture – in Pakistan, alongside Pakistani citizens and other nations in the country. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s more recent Afghan arrivals seek refuge because they are living in a context of permanent war and many are at immediate risk of persecution in Afghanistan.

Further underscoring the absurdity of the government of Pakistan’s demands for Afghans to leave the country is that Afghanistan is in the midst of a humanitarian disaster with deadly earthquakes killing thousands. The WFP estimates that more than 15 million Afghans across 25 of the 34 provinces face acute food insecurity.

It is also crucial to acknowledge that Afghans are in Pakistan in the first place because a number of states and actors – from the Soviet Union, to the U.S., the U.K, countries in the E.U., and the Gulf Arab region, Iran, and, indeed, Pakistan itself – have driven war and prevented Afghan self – determination/sovereignty in Afghanistan for over forty years. “We are here, because you were there,” so to speak.

The government of Pakistan’s calls for the deportation of Afghans also mirrors the actions of neighbouring Iran, which has also been home to millions of Afghans for over forty years but is engaged in practices of mass deportations.  

Additionally, the government of Pakistan’s calls for the deportation of Afghans is a consequence of the failures of the international humanitarian and migration regime and institutions in Pakistan – including the UNHCR and IOM – who have prioritised “repatriation” as the solution for Afghans in Pakistan (and Iran) when socio-economic and legal integration would be more the more just and humane solutions to advocate for.

Pakistan’s brazen call for deportations is also directly legitimated by – and mirror – the callous actions of governments in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia, and those in the European Union, including Germany, France, and other states who are architects of a global anti-poor and racialising migration regime in which closing safe routes to asylum, delaying asylum applications, and deporting Afghans – as well as other black, brown, Muslim and global South – persons is accepted, encouraged, and enforced.

Our Calls

We, the undersigned concerned individuals, scholars, policy-makers, activists, and organisations reject the government of Pakistan’s deportation plans and stand in solidarity with Afghans in Pakistan – and elsewhere.

We recognise all Afghans are a part of Pakistan and must be formally recognised as such, which must include permanent residency and/or citizenship and upholding principles of refuge.

We understand all of our paths to freedom are interconnected and that, instead of pitting oppressed groups against each other, the struggles of Afghans in Pakistan must be connected to the struggles of ethnic and religious minorities, political dissidents, displaced Pakistanis, women, and others in Pakistan.

We understand the struggle of Afghans in Pakistan is also connected to the struggles of Afghans the world over, as well as oppressed people, refugees, and migrants across the world. From Kabul to Karachi, from Gaza to Khartoum, from Mogadishu to Tripoli, from London to Paris – we are free only when we are all free.

We pledge to contribute in everyday life – on the street, in conversations, on social media, in institutions, universities,  by any means necessary, and in all spaces,  to the intentional de-criminalisation of Afghans, and all other marginalised communities in Pakistan.

Call #1

We call on concerned individuals, activists, communities, and organisations in Pakistan and its diaspora to:

Call #2

We call on concerned individuals, activists, communities, and organisations working with Afghans globally – especially in Iran, the U.K., E.U. states, the U.S., Canada, and Australia – to:

Call #3

We call on the states who have driven conflict in Afghanistan to:

Call #4

Call #5

Call #6

Stop using xenophobic constructions of Afghans – who are a vulnerable population – as scapegoats for the deeper rooted reasons for the country’s vulnerability to lethal bombings and attacks.

Continue to offer protection to all vulnerable Afghans who have sought safety in the country and could be at risk if forced to return to Afghanistan.

Open up pathways for Afghans who the government calls “undocumented” to be included into a system of refuge.

Allow a legal refugee and asylum framework to develop within Pakistan, which includes pathways to long-term residency and/or citizenship. This is the only way to meaningfully integrate and manage the country’s sizable and long-term Afghan – and other – population , as well as newcomers. has over 500 signatories listed

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