Deportation Of Afghans: SC Fixes Hearing For December 1

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood to lead three-member bench to hear the case

Deportation Of Afghans: SC Fixes Hearing For December 1

The Supreme Court on Saturday set December 1 as the date for hearing a petition against the deportation of Afghan citizens. A three-judge bench will hear the case. 

In the roster announced on Saturday, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ayesha Malik, will take up the Constitution petition on December 1.

The petitioners have urged the court to issue a restraining order against forced deportation of Afghan citizens.

The petition had been filed earlier this month. In the petition, former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar and others sought a restraining order against the forcible deportation or harassment of anyone born in Pakistan and having a claim to birthright citizenship in accordance with Section 4 of the Citizenship Act, 1951, as well as the ruling of the Islamabad High Court in the 2021 case of Hafiz Hamdullah Saboor.

The petitioners' counsel contended that the "impugned directive" being undertaken by the "apex committee" of the caretaker cabinet "effectively amounted to a reversal of a 45-year-old Pakistani state policy of hospitality and leniency towards refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants from the Afghan borders".

The plea argued that the federal government should be asked to permit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  (UNHCR) and its partner organisations to register, expedite the processing, and decide on all asylum-seeking applications filed by foreigners currently residing in Pakistan.

The petitioners claimed that the government’s policy had failed to provide any mechanism for distinguishing between birthright citizens and illegal immigrants.

The federal government initiated a crackdown against "undocumented" Afghan nationals - essentially people seeking refuge in the country and awaiting legal formalities.

Since November 1, 2023, the state has kicked off a campaign to forcibly evict around 1.3 million such people under the garb of addressing the issue of "illegal migrants", on whom it has placed the burden of the country's worsening economic and security concerns.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain