In a grim turn of events, Pakistani authorities have begun closing educational institutions catering to Afghan children as the deportation deadline of nearly 1.7 million foreign nationals, primarily Afghans, looms. This decision has sent shockwaves through the Afghan community in Pakistan, particularly affecting Afghan girls, potentially marking the end of their education for the foreseeable future.
Afghan women's uncertain future amidst deportation threat
According to reports from Khaama Press and ANI, the Pakistani government initiated a comprehensive crackdown on the estimated 1.7 million Afghans residing in the country without legal status. These individuals were given until October 31 to leave or face mass arrests, leading to a significant drop in school attendance and a two-thirds decrease in enrollment according to Khaama Press.
Many Afghan women and children had sought refuge in Pakistan when the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021. As the Afghan government under Taliban rule has already banned Afghan girls from accessing secondary education, their options are increasingly limited.
Sixteen-year-old Nargis Rezaei, who arrived in Pakistan in 2021 with her family, emphasised the importance of education, saying, "We came here to be educated, to have a good life." For many like her, returning to Afghanistan is not a viable option, especially given the limited freedoms and opportunities available to women there.
Afghan School Closures and Urgent Call for Humanitarian Aid
The situation reflects the dire conditions in Afghanistan, pushing its citizens to seek refuge in neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan. According to the United Nations, more than 600,000 Afghan migrants have crossed the borders into Pakistan since the Taliban's takeover, underscoring the urgent need for humanitarian assistance and international support to address their needs, reported Khaama Press.
As the November 1 deadline set by Pakistan's interim government for over 1.7 million undocumented migrants approaches, reports indicate that fear and apprehension have intensified among the Afghan migrant community. Failure to comply with this ultimatum may result in imprisonment and deportation, leaving them with few options and a bleak future.