Muhammad Rahim travelled from Karachi to the Afghan border by bus as the clock was ticking down to the deadline Pakistan had set for unauthorized migrants to depart the country on November 1.
This 35-year-old Afghan national was born in Pakistan, married a Pakistani woman, and raised his children in the port city. He does not possess any documentation proving his Pakistani nationality. “We’d live here our whole life if they didn’t send us back,” he added.
The Taliban government in Afghanistan said some 60,000 Afghans returned between Sept 23 to Oct 22 from Pakistan, which announced on Oct 4 it will expel undocumented migrants that do not leave.
And recent daily returnee figures are three times higher than normal, Taliban refugee ministry spokesman Abdul Mutaleb Haqqani told Reuters on Oct 26.
Near Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area – home to one of Pakistan’s largest Afghan settlements – a bus service operator named Azizullah said he had laid on extra services to cope with the exodus. Nearby, lines formed before competitor bus services headed to Afghanistan.
“Before I used to run one bus a week, now we have four to five a week,” said Azizullah, who – like all the Afghan migrants Reuters interviewed – spoke on condition that he be identified by only one name due to the sensitivity of the matter.