Pakistan’s threat to forcibly expel undocumented Afghan immigrants is unacceptable, a spokesman for the Taliban administration in Kabul said on Wednesday, adding that Afghans were not to blame for Pakistan’s security problems.
Estimating that there were 1.73 million Afghan immigrants living in Pakistan without any legal status, Pakistan’s caretaker government on Tuesday set a November 1 deadline for them to leave or face forcible expulsion.
“The behavior of Pakistan towards Afghan refugees is unacceptable,” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman in Kabul, said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
To help justify the crackdown, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti alleged that Afghan citizens had carried out 14 of 24 suicide bombings in Pakistan this year.
The Taliban spokesman rejected the claim.
“The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan. Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them,” Mr Mujahid said.
Pakistan’s ultimatum to the immigrants, most of whom have been living in the country for years, came after a meeting of civil and military leaders to review the law-and-order situation after two suicide bombings on Friday that killed at least 57 people.
Mr Bugti said one of the suicide bombers was an Afghan citizen, while he also accused India’s intelligence agency of involvement.
Relations between the Taliban and the Pakistan government have deteriorated markedly, with border clashes temporarily closing the main trade route between the neighbours last month.
Islamabad alleges that the militants use Afghan territory to train fighters and plan attacks in Pakistan. The Taliban denies the accusations, saying Pakistan’s security problems are home grown.
A caretaker government was installed in August to guide Pakistan through to elections expected some time in the coming months. Meanwhile, the military has been able to exert more influence as a result of the uncertainty and instability in the country.
But in the country’s mountainous northern and eastern provinces bordering Afghanistan, the army increasingly faces several militant threats, including the Pakistani Taliban, ISIS and Baloch separatists.