Christians and other refugees looking to leave Afghanistan have few choices. Neighboring Pakistan had potential exit routes, but the Pakistani government has clamped down on refugees wishing to enter the country.
Pakistan was not equipped to manage a refugee crisis, but thousands of refugees crossed the border after the Taliban takeover. Once Afghan Christians step foot in Pakistan, however, their plight and journey are far from over.
ICC found 60 Christian families that had fled Afghanistan for Pakistan. At least three decided to return to Afghanistan after months of turmoil as refugees in Pakistan.
Sardar and his Christian family initially had difficulty getting into Pakistan after the Taliban takeover. He was abducted by the Taliban en route to the border and held until his family could pay a ransom. They managed to scrape the money together, devastating them financially.
Once in Pakistan, Sardar and his family were not well received. Like nearly all refugees, they faced hunger and poor living conditions. With no means of work, they were at the mercy of Pakistan’s refugee system.
While Pakistan received refugees previously, the number of families that arrived following the collapse of Afghanistan was unprecedented. Thousands of Afghans flooded into Pakistan, so Sardar’s family was insignificant and their struggles commonplace. As with all the Christian refugee families, these struggles would undoubtedly have been worse had they been discovered as Christians.
Sardar and his family considered it better to return to Afghanistan. The fact that he had been subjected to the Taliban’s cruelties firsthand and still decided to go back illustrates the dreadful state of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He has experienced what the Taliban is capable of and knows how much worse it will be if the Taliban captures him again. Despite the ever-present danger to him and his family in Afghanistan, he felt there was a better chance of survival hiding in the shadows of the Taliban rather than eking out a life in Pakistan.
Reporting from International Christian Concern.