The UN human rights experts called upon Pakistan on Tuesday to discontinue their planned deportation of a large number of Afghans from the country. The pressure from human rights groups has increased since Pakistan Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced the deportation plan on October 3. The plan could result in the deportation of 1.4 million Afghans from the country by November 1, the deadline set by Bugti.The announcement of the deportation plan on October 3 made mention of “illegal migrants” and their criminal activity. Yet rights groups say that the plan would largely deport innocent Afghans seeking refuge from war. These rights groups point to limited and outdated registration procedures. According to reports, some Afghan refugees have faced wait times up to one year just to schedule interviews to qualify for Pakistan registration cards.Because of this, the UN says the deportation plan risks the refoulement of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan. Refoulement is the forcible return of asylum seekers to their home country before conditions are safe again, and would violate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Pakistan is a state party to the Convention, and, under international law, is bound by its principles of non-refoulement.After the Taliban takeover in 2021, an estimated 3.7 million Afghans fled across the eastern border into Pakistan. Rights groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW) have advocated against the planned deportation alongside the UN, saying that many of the refugees fear persecution in their home country. But an uptick in terror attacks in Pakistan has led many politicians to blame the large numbers of Afghan refugees, many of whom remain undocumented. According to the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, there were 65 militant terrorist attacks in Pakistan in the month of September, alone. These attacks resulted in 136 deaths, a 21 percent increase from August.

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