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Pakistan all set for crackdown against illegal immigrants from Nov 2

Pakistan all set for crackdown against illegal immigrants from Nov 2

طوبیٰ Tooba 9 months ago 0 2

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Afghan refugees arrive in trucks and cars to cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chaman on October 31, 2023. — AFP
Afghan refugees arrive in trucks and cars to cross the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chaman on October 31, 2023. — AFP
  • Deadline set for voluntary return will expire tomorrow, says Bugti.  
  • He says “our lengthy and gradual operation” will start from Nov 2.
  • “Govt will provide food and health facilities at holding centers”.

As the clock ticked down to the deadline set for “aliens”, 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.

From November 2 onward, he said, “Our lengthy and gradual operation will start,” ensuring that, “We are not deporting any refugees. Only those who are completely illegal will leave Pakistan.”

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.

Islamabad said it took the decision after Afghan nationals were found to be involved in crimes, smuggling and 14 suicide bombings out of 24 this year, alleging that the militants use Afghan soil to train fighters and plan attacks inside Pakistan.

The expulsion plan marks a new low in already fractured relations between the South Asian neighbours.

Bugti said those leaving voluntarily will be assisted by the government at temporary centres set up to house the immigrants.

“We will try to provide them food and health facilities for two to three days at the holding centers,” the interior minister said.

The immigrants, mostly Afghans, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for years, will be processed at the centres.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans moved to Pakistan to escape war and conflicts, and many are registered as refugees with the government and U.N. agencies.

Pakistan says it has received the largest influx of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Kabul in 1979.

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