October 3, 2023
ISLAMABAD – The caretaker government has decided to evict 1.1 million foreigners living illegally in Pakistan because of their involvement in funding and facilitating terrorists and other illegal activities, according to state-run wire service Associated Press of Pakistan.
“In the first phase, illegal residents, in the second phase, those with Afghan citizenship and in the third phase, those with proof of residence cards will be expelled,” it stated.
Quoting a “source privy to the development”, the report said foreigners illegally residing in the country “pose a serious threat to the security of Pakistan”.
It stated that the plan for eviction of illegally residing Afghan citizens had also been approved “as the lot is involved in funding, facilitating and smuggling terrorists whereas 700,000 Afghans have not renewed their proof of residence in Pakistan”.
“It has been informed that in the first phase, illegal residents will be deported along with those who do not renew their visas. In the second phase, those with Afghan citizenship will be deported, in the third phase, those with proof of residence cards will be deported,” the APP report said, adding that the interior ministry had devised the plan in consultation with stakeholders and the Afghan government.
“In the meantime, the ministry has also issued directives to the concerned to compile a record of Afghans living without permits and prepare a transportation plan to bring them to the Afghan border.
“Apart from checking the records of all the Afghans residing in the country, the concerned officials were directed to quickly deal with the applications filed regarding the registration of Afghans,” the report concluded.
Today’s development comes as the most recent in the state’s crackdown on Afghan refugees.
September has seen an alarming rise in the rounding up and detention of Afghan refugees. The government cites illegal immigration and rising crime as the reasons behind the crackdown.
Around 1.3m Afghans are registered refugees and 880,000 more have legal status to remain in Pakistan, according to the latest United Nations figures.
Police and politicians have said a recent round-up targets only those without legal status and is in response to rising crime and poor regulation of immigration that is straining resources.
At least 700 Afghans have been arrested since early September in Karachi alone — 10 times more than in August — and hundreds more in the other cities, according to official police figures.
Meanwhile, Afghans say the arrests have been indiscriminate.
They accuse police of extorting money and ignoring legal documents while pointing to rising anti-Afghan sentiment as prolonged economic hardship burdens Pakistani households and tensions rise between Islamabad and Kabul’s new Taliban government.