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No favourites, in contact with all political parties: caretaker interior minister

Tooba Shakir 7 months ago 0 1

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Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti is addressing a press conference in Islamabad, in this still taken from a video, on October 26, 2023. — YouTube/GeoNews
Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti is addressing a press conference in Islamabad, in this still taken from a video, on October 26, 2023. — YouTube/GeoNews
  • Interim govt will abide by ECP directions, reassures Sarfraz Bugti.
  • “Our responsibility to assist top electoral body in general elections.”
  • Holding centres established for expulsion of aliens, minister reveals.

As the general elections are drawing closer, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti has said that the interim government is in contact with all political parties as it has “no favourites”.

Speaking at Geo News‘ programme “Naya Pakistan” on Sunday, the security czar said that the caretaker government is also in contact with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), brushing aside the impression of the favour given the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

“It is our [caretaker government’s] responsibility to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) [in the electoral process],” he said while reassuring that the interim setup has abided by the instructions given by the electoral body regarding transfers and postings of officers, bureaucrats.

“Whatever the ECP’s directions are, we will abide by it,” he added.

Bugti’s remarks come as the poll organising body has directed the federal government to transfer Inspector General Police (IG) Islamabad.

“The IG Islamabad is performing well […] It is my wish that he continues to work [as federal capital’s police chief],” the minister said while reassuring that the interim government would follow on the ECP’s directives regarding the IG Islamabad’s transfer.

The ECP on September 21 announced that general elections in the country would take place in the last week of January 2024.

‘Holding centres’ established for expulsion of aliens

On the issue of repatriation of illegal foreigners, the security czar said that the government is encouraging the “voluntary return” of aliens till the November 1 deadline after which the state will commence its operation to expel them.

It is pertinent to know that the caretaker government, earlier this month, had directed all “aliens” — including 1.73 million Afghan nationals — to leave the country following a series of terrorist attacks in which Afghan nationals were found to be responsible for 14 of 24 suicide bombings.

The federal minister also said that 15,000 to 20,000 illegal foreigners left Pakistan voluntarily between Thursday and Friday.

Expressing his views on the total number of foreigners in the country, the Bugti highlighted that there are more than 3 million such individuals residing in Pakistan including illegal aliens, those with proof of registration(POR) and refugees.

“All provincial governments will be part of the operation […] committees have been formed on divisional, district levels,” he said in a response to a question regarding the deportation of illegal foreigners.

“Geo-mapping has been completed [to locate illegal foreigners]. The government will target aliens wherever they are,” he added.

The expulsion of aliens, he also said, would be carried out in phases with illegal foreigners — people with no travel documents and those who breached Nadra’s records to present themselves as Pakistani citizens — deported in the first phase.

Meanwhile, Afghan nationality card holders, people possessing POR, and refugees registered with UNHCR will be expelled in the second phase.

“Everyone [illegal foreigners] will have to go back,” he added.

Commenting on the issue being given an ethnic angle, Bugti said: “This is not limited to Afghan citizens […] We mention Afghanistan as unfortunately, most illegal foreigners are from there.”

Responding to a question pertaining to the implementation of the government’s policy to expel illegal foreigners, Bugti said: “Yes there will be raids […] We have established holding centres. Illegal foreigners will be brought to these centres where they will be taken care of and provided for.” 

“Authorities have been directed to treat women, children and the elderly with the utmost respect,” he said, adding, “The illegal foreigners will be shifted to the border [from the holding centres] in three to four weekly batches.”

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