Pakistan sets November 1 as deadline for ‘illegal immigrants’ to leave country – Pakistan

In a major development, the caretaker government on Tuesday ordered all illegal immigrants to sell their properties and leave the country by November 1.

Addressing a press conference after the high commission meeting chaired by the caretaker prime minister, caretaker home minister Sarfraz Bugti said that illegal foreigners are being given a deadline of November 1 to leave the country.

Bugti said the deadline would also apply to entering Pakistan without a passport or visa.

Talking about the Afghans, the minister informed that there are currently 1.73 million unregistered and illegal Afghans living in Pakistan.

He mentioned that only e-tazkiras (electronic Afghan identity cards) will be accepted from October 10 to 31.

Anyone coming from November 1 onwards must have a passport and visa to enter Pakistan, Bugti said.

Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi in a post on X (formerly Twitter) also informed that the government has given 28 days to illegal foreigners to leave Pakistan.

The decision was taken to improve the law and order situation in the state-run country Radio Pakistan reported.

The army chief, civil and military officials and other concerned bodies attended the apex committee meeting on Tuesday.

The acting interior minister said foreign nationals living illegally in the country had been asked to leave voluntarily.

“All state law enforcement agencies will be mobilized to take action against illegal aliens and they will be deported after November 1,” he added.

Bugti also announced that all illegal properties and businesses run by the illegal citizens will also be confiscated after the deadline.

Illegal immigrants must be deported: IG Sindh

He said that action will be taken as per law against any Pakistani national if found involved in illegal business and making properties by illegal foreign nationals.

The minister said that a working group has been established under the Ministry of Interior to launch and monitor these actions.

“The safety and security of the people of Pakistan is the primary responsibility and top priority of the government,” Bugti said.

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He said the DNA test will also be used to detect those who are not Pakistanis but have a national identity card.

A web portal with a universal number will be launched soon so that the public can also contribute by providing information about those living illegally in Pakistan and their illegal activities, the caretaker minister said.

In response to a question, Bugti said that out of 24 different attacks in Pakistan this year, “14 were carried out by Afghan nationals”.

More than a thousand arrested in two weeks: the Afghan embassy

In a X statement, the Afghan embassy in Islamabad said more than a thousand Afghans, including many document holders, had been detained in the past two weeks.

“Despite repeated promises by the Pakistani authorities, arrests and harassment of Afghan refugees by the police in Pakistan continue,” the embassy said.

Return must be voluntary: UNHCR spokesperson

Asked about the Pakistan government’s decision to deport illegal immigrants, Qaisar Khan Afridi, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a Turkish news bulletin Anatolia that “any return of refugees must be voluntary and without any pressure to ensure protection for those seeking safety”.

“We have seen disturbing reports in the press about a plan to deport undocumented Afghans and are seeking clarity from our government partners,” Anatolia also quotes Afridi.

According to the report, the UNHCR spokesperson urged Pakistan to put in place a mechanism to ensure that Afghans with international protection are not deported.

“Pakistan has remained a generous host to refugees for decades. This role is recognized globally, but more needs to be done to compensate for her generosity,” he said.

Afridi said UNHCR was ready to support Pakistan in developing a mechanism to manage and register people in need of international protection on its territory and to respond to “particular vulnerabilities”, the new Turkish publication reported.

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