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Global Silence As Pakistan Orders Forcible Deportation Of 1.7 Million Afghan Refugees


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MEMRI

Tufail Ahmad*

November 14, 2023

The state of Pakistan – which receives regular assistance from the U.S. to help Afghan refugees, with $60 million received in 2022 alone[1] and another $80.2 million reported for 2023[2] – is currently forcibly displacing 1.7 million Afghan refugees, with more than 210,000 Afghans having been deported during the first ten days of November 2023.[3] Pakistani officials are razing refugees' mud homes; Afghan children, women, and madrassa students are picked up by police in night raids and dumped into concentration camps for deportation; Pakistani officials and local goons are confiscating the little property these refugees have accumulated over the past few decades.

It is a human tragedy of colossal proportions not seen since 1947 when millions were displaced and killed as Pakistan was carved out of India. But there is global silence. And silence can be ideological. On November 2, journalist Habib Khan posted a video of Pakistani bulldozers razing the homes of the Afghan refugees along with a tweet: "Pakistani government destroying homes of Afghan refugees. Only if Pakistan were a Jewish state, there would have been a global outcry from anti-Jews Muslims and liberals. Now, it doesn't fit their narrative so who cares about the plight of millions of Afghan refugees?"[4]

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In Pakistan, the wind blows in the direction that the army chief, the de facto king of Pakistan, turns his flute. Journalists, politicians, and Islamic clerics, chirrup to the tune set by General Asim Munir, even moreso because he is the first army chief who is a hafiz, one who who has memorized the Quran.[5] Unable to stop the jihadi fighters of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from launching terror attacks from their shelters in Afghanistan into Pakistan, the army chief of the nuclear-powered state decided to punish the refugees instead, setting October 31 as the deadline to quit Pakistan.

Islamic clerics organize mass protests against Israel in every town and city in Pakistan almost on a daily basis, but they are silent on the large-scale displacement of Afghans. Outrage can be religious. Pakistan's leading Islamic religious scholar Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the emir of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), has been visiting Turkey and Qatar, aiming to land in Gaza, while Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan emir Sirajul Haq is visiting Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, with both the Islamic leaders seeking to muster an Islamic strategy in favor of Hamas.[6] "The Muslim Ummah has placed its hopes in [Turkish President Recep] Tayyip Erdoğan. He should step forward and play a role," Sirajul Haq said in a meeting with the leaders of Islamic organizations in Istanbul.[7]

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Over 210,000 Afghans were deported in the first ten days of November (Image: Money Control)

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* Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative.

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