Afghan Journalists in Pakistan Concerned as Deadline for Deportation Looms
WASHINGTON — Afghan Journalist Nasima Rawnaq's visa extension in Pakistan was rejected
for the second time, and "no reasons [were] given for it," she said.
"Now, I do not know what to do," said Rawnaq, who fled to Pakistan in June. "I can't return to
Afghanistan, as my life is in danger … and no relocation to a third country in sight."
Rawnaq is one of the hundreds of Afghan journalists who have escaped to Pakistan since the
Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021, hoping to be relocated to a third country.
Now she and other Afghan journalists face deportation as the Pakistani government plans to
begin deporting 1.7 million undocumented Afghans, including those "overstaying their visa
On Oct. 3, Pakistani Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced that all undocumented
immigrants had until Nov. 1 to leave the country or face deportation.
Rawnaq said she will be considered "illegal" with no valid visa.
"I am afraid here as I was in Afghanistan. It is possible that I [will] get arrested and deported,"
said Rawnaq, who lives with her husband and child in Islamabad.
After Kabul fell to the Taliban, Rawnaq continued to work underground as a journalist, working
nearly two years in Afghanistan at various media outlets.
"I was afraid whenever the door was knocked. I was thinking the Taliban were coming after me,"
she said. She finally decided earlier this year that she had to leave.
About 700,000 Afghans fled to Pakistan after the Taliban's takeover, according to the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
UNHCR stated that 3.7 million Afghans live in Pakistan, of whom 1.7 million are deemed to be
in the country illegally, with little or no protection or opportunity to apply for asylum
Afghan efugee children sit on a truck loaded with belongings as they and their families prepare
to return home, outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees repatriation centers
in Azakhel town in Nowshera, Pakistan, Oct. 30, 2023.
Source: Press Freedom