In October 2023, Islamabad gave all undocumented foreigners till November 1 to voluntarily leave Pakistan, warning that those who remained beyond the deadline would be deported.
After the November 1 deadline expired, a false claim began to spread online insisting that the government of Pakistan has made it mandatory for the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) before entering Punjab.
The claim is baseless. There is no such official policy in place.
On November 26, a social media account posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the “Pashtuns and Baloch” will now have to get an NOC before entering Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab.
“But they don’t need a clearance or NOC for stealing minerals from [Khyber] Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan,” the user wrote, “Can there be any more enmity with the people [of the two provinces]?”
The post further contained a photo from a news bulletin of Geo Television, a Pakistani news channel, alleging that the media organisation had also reported the same, that people from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will now require “visa cards” to enter Punjab.
This post had been viewed over 50,000 times on X, reposted 205 times and liked 319 times, at the time of writing.
On November 25, another X user uploaded two short videos.
In one video, a person, speaking in Pashto, claimed that Punjab has introduced a new visa policy for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which includes paying a fee of Rs500.
In the other video, a man, holding his Pakistani national identity card, criticises the new policy as “unfair” which requires him to show a visa at a check-post in Attock, Punjab, before being allowed to work in the province as a labourer for three months.
“It seemed like we are going to America,” he said, “They [the Punjab government] should be ashamed of themselves.”
This post has been viewed over 164,000 times on X, to date.
Identical claims have been shared by other X accounts.
There is no new policy that makes it mandatory for residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to obtain a visa or a no-objection certificate (NOC) to enter Punjab, officials confirm. Neither has any such news been aired by Geo Television.
Rao Atif Raza, the deputy commissioner in Attock, told Geo Fact Check over the phone that the claims circulating online were not true.
“How can this even be possible?” he asked, “These people are Pakistani [citizens]. They can go anywhere [in the country] they want. They are not traveling to another country where they need a visa.”
Muhammad Sikandar Gondal, the deputy superintendent of police in the Hazro tehsil of Attock, also said over the phone that the claims were false and baseless.
“Are there any videos that show police officers stopping people at the border [between Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] and asking for a document?” Gondal asked, “No, because it is not possible. There is no such policy or directions.”
Taimoor Khan, the chief security officer in Attock, said he was aware of the false news spreading online and has been asked by senior officials to probe the matter at both the check-posts set up between Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“We categorically reject this propaganda,” he added.
While Shakeel Ahmad Mian, the additional chief secretary of the home department in Punjab, told Geo Fact Check over the phone that these claims were “totally false”.
Separately, social media posts have accused Geo News of reporting the requirement of documentation for residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
But a spokesperson of Geo News said the image and banner circulating online were fabricated and no such news was aired on the channel.
With additional reporting by Saman Amjad.
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