Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti has announced that the Pakistan government is intensifying its efforts to repatriate undocumented foreign nationals residing within the country. The government’s stance on this issue has taken a resolute turn as the deadline for voluntary repatriation approaches. Bugti revealed in a recent interview that after November 1, the state will initiate a phased operation to expel aliens.
Over 20,000 illegal foreigners have voluntarily left Pakistan in the past three days, indicating a measure of success in the government’s endeavor. Bugti emphasized that all provincial governments are actively involved in this operation, with committees established at divisional and district levels to oversee the process. Notably, the expulsion will occur in multiple phases, with individuals lacking valid travel documents facing deportation in the initial stage.
The government has gone to great lengths in preparation for this operation, having completed geo-mapping to pinpoint the locations of illegal foreign nationals throughout the country. In response to concerns about their well-being, holding centers have been established, with Bugti assuring that all necessary facilities will be provided to those affected by the impending deadline.
Rawalpindi Identifies 24,000 Undocumented Afghans
In a separate development, the Rawalpindi division in Pakistan has identified a staggering number of undocumented Afghan nationals residing within its jurisdiction. According to district authorities, over 24,000 undocumented Afghan nationals have been counted, with a looming October 31 deadline issued by the Pakistani government for their return to Afghanistan or face legal action.
Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chatha has taken decisive steps in response to this situation. He issued instructions for the identification of locations where these individuals can be gathered before deportation. This decision was reached after a committee meeting that included Regional Police Chief Khurram Ali, deputy commissioners of the districts, senior police officers, and representatives of intelligence agencies.
The meeting also highlighted the fact that the final list of foreign nationals residing in the division is in the final stages of compilation. According to current data, the number of undocumented foreigners is estimated to be 24,018, with around 12,000 in the Rawalpindi district, 10,000 in Attock district, 1,200 in Chakwal district, and 818 individuals in Jhelum district.
Chatha instructed his deputies in the districts as well as the district police officers (DPOs) to coordinate with security agencies to finalize the lists. Additionally, they were tasked with identifying specific locations for gathering these undocumented foreigners.
Legal Action Looms
Rawalpindi Regional Police Chief Khurram Ali emphasized that the upcoming crackdown on undocumented foreign nationals would be fair and just. Individuals who are in the country without legal status will not be allowed to stay, and the government will take legal action against those who fail to leave by the October 31 deadline, in accordance with the Foreigners Act.
However, RPO Ali clarified that Afghan nationals who are currently under trial or have been convicted of serious crimes will not be deported. The focus will be on deporting those charged with minor offenses, in an effort to ensure a just and well-balanced approach to the situation. The government’s firm stance on this issue underscores its commitment to addressing the challenges posed by undocumented foreign nationals within its borders.