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Crackdown begins against illegal migrants as deadline to leave Pakistan expires

Tooba Shakir 7 months ago 0 1

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Afghan citizens wait with their belongings to cross into Afghanistan, after Pakistan gives the last warning to undocumented immigrants to leave, at the Friendship Gate of Chaman Border Crossing along the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border in Balochistan Province, in Chaman, Pakistan October 31, 2023. — Reuters
Afghan citizens wait with their belongings to cross into Afghanistan, after Pakistan gives the last warning to undocumented immigrants to leave, at the Friendship Gate of Chaman Border Crossing along the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border in Balochistan Province, in Chaman, Pakistan October 31, 2023. — Reuters
  • Four illegal Afghan immigrants arrested from Saddar area in Karachi.
  • Undocumented foreigners being shifted to holding centres.
  • Holding points provided with facilities to repatriate aliens. 

Authorities on Wednesday launched a crackdown on illegal immigrants across the country as the deadline for undocumented foreigners expired a day earlier, while thousands of illegal Afghan migrants have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan.

Undocumented foreigners in different parts of the country including Karachi, Rawalpindi and others are being detained and moved to holding centres before being repatriated to their respective countries.

Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Tuesday announced that the government would start a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals, from Thursday (November 2).

“Only two days are left for a voluntary return,” Bugti said in a video-recorded statement, adding that the November 1 deadline set for the voluntary return will expire on Wednesday.

Pakistan is home to more than 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees, about 1.7 million of them undocumented, according to the interior ministry, including many who were born in Pakistan and lived there their entire lives.

Islamabad announced earlier this month that it wanted all undocumented immigrants to leave by November 1 after they were found involved in crimes, smuggling and 14 suicide bombings out of 24 this year.

Crackdown

In Karachi, authorities detained four illegal Afghan immigrants from Saddar area and shifted them to a holding centre from where they will be repatriated to Afghanistan after fulfilling legal formalities.

Heavy contingent of police also reached the metropolis’ Sohrab Goth area and warned the undocumented immigrants through loudspeaker to return to their country by today midnight.

Similarly, dozens of illegal immigrants from different areas were detained from Balochistan’s Chaman area, Levies officials said.

They said a large number of Afghan refugees have reached Chaman from all over the country after the authorities issued deadline to leave the country.

The Levies officials said the undocumented Afghan migrant families are being shifted to holding centres after registration.

They added that as many as five thousand illegal Afghan refugees had been shifted to the holding centre so far.

Speaking to Geo News in Peshawar, SSP Operations Kashif Aftab Abbasi said police teams along with the district administration are present in different areas to advise the undocumented foreigners to return to their country.

According to Afghan commissionerate sources, as many as 104,000 Afghan refugees living illegally in Pakistan have returned to Afghanistan so far.

The undocumented refugees included 28,000 men and 19,000 women and 56,000 thousand children.

Evacuation of illegal foreigners from Punjab will be phased from November 3, IG Punjab

Punjab IG Usman Anwar said the plan for the repatriation of illegal residents has been finalised and the provincial police will implement the federal government directives in this regard.

He said detained undocumented foreigners will be kept at holding centres before and will be expelled from the province after fulfilling legal formalities.

He said providing transport, food and other arrangements will be the responsibility of district administration.

Meanwhile, two illegal Afghan migrants were arrested in Rawalpindi’s Pirwadhai area and shifted to the holding center.

Biometric verification of the detained Afghan citizens will be conducted by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) in the holding center.

Holding centres

All the holding points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other provinces have been provided with facilities to repatriate the foreigners after completing legal process. Apart from providing Nadra mobile units, offices of magistrate and other officials have been set up at the holding point on Nasir Bagh Road to complete legal formalities before deporting undocumented Afghans. Doctors and other facilities have also been provided at the centre where adequate security has been arranged.

It was learnt that foreigners from Islamabad and Punjab would be brought to the holding point in Landikotal. Others from Peshawar and different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be shifted to the holding camp on Nasir Bagh Road from where they will be taken to the Torkham border.

A control room was set up at the Home Department to monitor the process where Grade 17 or above officers will represent different departments, including police, district administration, intelligence agencies, Nadra, Passport and Immigration and Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

Govt urged to follow human rights commitments

Responding to a petition submitted by a delegation of prominent human rights defenders (HRDs), the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has written a letter to the government and other stakeholders urging them to deal with Afghan asylum seekers according to national and international human rights commitments.

A delegation of prominent human rights defenders (HRDs) submitted a petition in NCHR requesting the Commission to play its role in restraining the government from detaining, forcefully deporting or otherwise harassing Afghan asylum-seekers.

The petition also suggested the Commission to direct UNHCR to expeditiously process and decide all the asylum-seeking applications files by the foreigners presently residing in Pakistan especially Afghan HRD. 

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