Deadline lapse sets in motion nationwide operation to deport ‘aliens’

  • Interior Ministry instructs all provinces to deport illegal foreigners under Foreign Act 1946
  • Security forces complete process of identifying illegal Afghans by mapping, geo-fencing

ISLAMABAD/SWAT/KARACHI: The government on Wednesday initiated a nationwide operation to deport the illegal foreign nationals including Afghans following expiry of the deadline set for repatriation voluntarily.

The Interior Ministry, for the first time in country’s history, has issued instructions to all provinces to deport illegal foreigners under the Foreign Act 1946.

The caretaker government has warned of strict legal action if any Pakistani is found to be involved in harboring illegal foreign nationals.

The repatriation plan will apply to all foreigners residing illegally in Pakistan. No country or nationality will be taken into account in the application of the plan.

The security forces have completed the process of identifying illegal Afghans by mapping and geo-fencing. Identification process of 200,000 illegal foreigners residing in Sindh has been completed.

Of the 300,000 Afghan citizens residing illegally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, individuals who do not leave voluntarily will be shifted to detention centers.

In Punjab and Balochistan, operation has also been started to deport illegal Afghans and their data is being checked by scanning.

In Karachi, a significant contingent of police has been stationed at holding camps designated for those who have been residing illegally in the country.

As part of this initiative, foreign migrants are being relocated to the old Haji camp for temporary accommodation. Simultaneously, an extensive operation is underway to identify and deport individuals who have not registered for repatriation and those who continue to illegally reside in the country without authorisation.

According to sources, the highest concentration of ‘aliens’ is reported in District East, Sohrab Goth, and adjoining areas of Karachi, where approximately 165,000 immigrants are estimated to be living unlawfully.

Meanwhile, in Chaman, a considerable number of Afghan nationals who were residing illegally in different parts of the country have converged, registering themselves for repatriation.

These individuals are being housed in camps established to accommodate Afghan refugee families. To date, around 5,000 Afghan refugees have arrived at the Chaman center after completing the registration process.

Reports from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suggest that 51,044 foreigners residing unlawfully have been identified across various districts. Detailed official documentation highlights that among these individuals, more than 24,000 are adults, while over 25,000 are children.

Peshawar leads with the highest count of illegal residents at 22,752, comprising 5,826 men, 5,800 women, and 11,000 children. Moreover, significant numbers have been reported in other districts including Nowshera (7,185), Khyber (5,173), Mansehra (2,700), among others, totaling to 51,044.

The campaign to repatriate illegal foreign nationals has already commenced, resulting in the return of 5,265 families, consisting of 140,085 individuals, between October 1 and October 31, as confirmed by the Afghan Commissionerate sources.

Authorities maintain that the operation aims to ensure compliance with the law while addressing the issue of illegal residency across the country.

More than 200,000 Afghan immigrants have voluntarily gone back to their countries from Torkham border crossing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chaman crossing in Balochistan provinces this month.

Thousands of Afghan refugees are waiting for their turn in vehicles, lorries, and trucks, and the number continues to grow.

Pakistan has said the deportations are to protect the “welfare and security” of the country, where anti-Afghan sentiment has been growing amid prolonged economic hardship and a rise in cross-border militancy.

The government says more than four million foreigners live in Pakistan, a vast majority of them Afghan nationals who sought refuge over the last four decades after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

More recently, after the Taliban regained power in 2021, Pakistani officials say between 600,000 to 800,000 Afghans migrated to Pakistan. The Pakistani government claims nearly 1.7 million of those Afghans are undocumented.

Our Correspondent from Swat adds: At least 981 members of 167 families of undocumented Afghan nationals have returned, while 16 living individually also left voluntarily in Malakand Division during the last 5 days, officials confirmed.

According to the officials, the migrants residing in nine-districts of Malakand Division – Swat, Shangla, Buner, Malakand, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Lower Chitral, Upper Chitral and Bajaur have started returning after the expiry of the deadline.

According to government statistics, the number of families of Afghan refugees (illegal immigrants) returning from the districts of Malakand Division is 167. In which 981 family members are included, while 12 people who were living individually have also returned.

The authorities said that at least 642 people have returned from Lower Dir.

“The total number of illegal immigrants in Malakand Division is 2,735.Out of which cases have been registered against 103 people while currently 8 people are in different prisons.” The authorities said.

According to official sources, all facilities are being provided to illegal immigrants to return voluntarily.



Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today


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