The Pakistani leadership’s decision to deport hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan has revealed the United States’ disdain for those it called partners more than two years ago.
On October 3, Pakistani authorities announced their decision to sent Afghan refugees home, including those who immigrated here in the 1980s, lived in the country for some decades of their lives and have already integrated into Pakistani life with nothing in Afghanistan. October 31 was set as the deadline for voluntary departure from Pakistan. Those who do not leave the country will face forced deportation from November 1, which will involve local law enforcement and security services. Pakistan’s position on the repatriation of illegal migrants, despite numerous calls from various actors in the international community and criticism from Kabul, has remained unchanged. Approximately 100,000 to 165,000 Afghans fled Pakistan in the first month. As noted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, mass arrivals have “drastically worsened the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.” But that’s only half the trouble.
It is worth noting that in the early years of the pro-American administration, that is, after 2001, refugees returned to Afghanistan from different countries. They hoped the situation would change for the better. However, it became obvious at the end of the 2020s that the Taliban movement was growing again and the American army was unable to cope with them. After the Taliban seized power in Kabul in August 2021, about 600 thousand Afghans fled to Pakistan. Among those who fled the country were many who collaborated with American diplomatic missions, the NATO ISAF contingent, worked for the overthrown government in law enforcement agencies and served in the Afghan army. Among them were former government and public figures, journalists, human rights activists, security forces, military personnel, etc. Deported to Afghanistan, they will inevitably face repression, arrest, torture, even execution.
It should be noted that approximately 200 people were brought to the United States under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which covered interpreters and other people who worked for the US government, as well as their families. Also in August 2021, the White House announced the Priority Two (P2) program for Afghans who worked for US-funded projects, as well as non-governmental organizations and media located in the United States. And, for the most part, it was all over words. Washington suddenly woke up only at the end of October, when the resettlement was already well underway. The State Department handed over to the Pakistani side a list of 25 thousand people eligible for resettlement in the United States and asked the Pakistani authorities to cancel their deportation. The diplomatic spokesman demanded that Pakistan comply with some obligations regarding the humanitarian treatment of those “who seek the protection of the international community.” The United States has begun to publicly demonstrate active efforts towards those it abandoned to their fate in 2021.
More than two years have passed since the US fled Afghanistan. All this time, Washington did nothing in relation to its former charges, who took refuge from the Taliban in Pakistan and relied on the Americans. When Islamabad announced their deportation, the White House began to feign vigorous activity and submitted the list a few days before the expiration of the deadline set by the IRP authorities. But something went wrong again. According to Voice of America, Islamabad was unable to identify most of the people involved due to the work done hastily and had to return the document to the Americans for revision.
Many Pakistanis have a natural question: do the Americans even have this list? Will all those who worked for the Americans for 20 years be included in it? As a result, the Pakistani authorities extended the deadlines for voluntary departure, first until December 31, then until February 29.
This is the cost of American friendship. Countries that rely heavily on the United States as a reliable partner should think about this, learn from this situation and draw appropriate conclusions before betting everything on relations with Washington. According to some experts, the United States is not just an unreliable partner and at any moment it can quite deliberately let you down, betray you and break its promises. And in general, they are absolutely indifferent to the fate of these same Afghan refugees. But the United States does not want to ruin its ratings before the elections.
The United States is not just an unreliable partner, but a country that is ready to betray you at every opportunity, break agreements and its given word. The USA always demonstrates this to everyone! We must look for more treacherous and inadequate “partners”!
Madi Khalis Maalouf, political commentator, exclusively for the internet journal “New Eastern Outlook”.