Fazl condemns 'ruthless' crackdown on Afghans

JUI-F chief says polls not feasible in Jan as heavy snowfall often confines populace to homes

Our Correspondent October 08, 2023
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE


Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has strongly criticised the ongoing "roughshod crackdown" on Afghans, arguing that the action being carried out by authorities is not only targeting illegal residents but also affecting those who are residing legally.

At a news conference, Fazl warned that this heavy-handed approach could lead to several problems and urged the government to cautiously deal with the matter.

The JUI-F chief expressed alarm over the alleged violation of human rights that was witnessed during the authorities' pursuit of Afghan individuals.

He denounced the "ruthless actions", accusing the bureaucracy of acting like vultures, aggressively preying on vulnerable individuals.

Fazl invited the international human rights watchdogs to visit Pakistan and observe the situation firsthand, stressing the importance of following a proper method to address the issue at hand.

Read: Siraj urges govt not to decide Afghan refugees issue in haste

The JUI-F chief also brought attention to the fact that deteriorating relations with neighbouring countries were not beneficial. He criticised the selective targeting of foreign nationals, particularly Afghans, while highlighting that there were others residing illegally in Pakistan as well. He went on to reiterate his suggestions for the formation of a commission to facilitate reconciliation and resolve the issues.

Given Afghanistan's history of unrest, Fazl said that it would take time for the Afghan rulers to mature and become as responsible as their Pakistani counterparts. He emphasised the need to consider the problems seriously, criticising the caretaker government for exacerbating the difficulties.

The government recently announced a major crackdown on illegal migrants, intended to begin in the following month.

The decision raised concerns among foreigners without proper documentation, including the estimated 1.7 million Afghan nationals residing in Pakistan. The crackdown coincides with strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, stemming from attacks in Pakistan by Taliban-allied militants who frequently cross the shared border to seek shelter in Afghanistan.

Read more: 'In line with international practice', FM defends deportation of illegal Afghans

He once again expressed his willingness to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to ease the tensions.

‘Weather not suitable for polls’

In a firm stand on the scheduling of elections, the JUI-F chief asserted that his party was not afraid of the upcoming polls and had no intentions of avoiding them.

On the contrary, he accused other political parties of being fearful, criticising them for their remarks against the JUI-F.

Speaking about the Election Commission of Pakistan's proposed timing for the elections, he expressed his party's readiness to participate.
However, he highlighted the commission's intention to hold the polls in November, giving a 90-day timeframe, or to consider ground and weather conditions.

According to him, January could be problematic as heavy snowfall often confined a significant portion of Pakistan's population to their homes.

These remarks were made against a backdrop of strained relations between the JUI-F and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) regarding the election timing. The PPP has been pushing for early elections, while the JUI-F has accused them of evading the electoral process.

Turning his attention towards Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and JUI-F's political rival, Fazl pointed out that Imran’s imprisonment had brought an end to criticism against him.

Nonetheless, he expressed concern about the country's declining administrative structure, the influence of centrist forces and religious entities, and the weakening trust people had in the establishment and bureaucracy. He also blamed the current state of the economy on the PTI chief’s tenure as leader.

Fazl also highlighted his opposition to the merger of the tribal areas, claiming that time had proven his stance right.

He argued that the decision to merge the regions had been rushed, leading to the loss of eight seats in the Senate and six seats in the National Assembly for the tribal areas.


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