In a major development, the caretaker government on Tuesday directed all illegal immigrants to sell their properties and leave the country by November 1.
Addressing a press conference after the apex committee meeting under the chairmanship of the interim prime minister, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti stated that illegal foreign residents were being given a deadline of November 1 to leave the country.
Bugti said the deadline would also apply for entry into Pakistan without a passport or visa.
Talking of Afghan, the minister informed that 1.73 million unregistered and illegal Afghans are currently living in Pakistan.
He mentioned that only e-tazkiras (electronic Afghan identity cards) would be accepted from October 10-31.
Anyone coming from November 1 onwards must have a passport and visa to enter Pakistan, Bugti said.
Interim 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 has been taken to improve law and order situation in the country, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
Army chief, civil and military officials, and other concerned authorities attended the apex committee meeting on Tuesday.
The caretaker interior minister said foreign nationals living illegally in the country have been asked to leave voluntarily.
“All the state law enforcement agencies will be mobilised to take action against the illegal foreign nationals and they will be deported after November 1,” he added.
Bugti also announced that all illegal properties and businesses being run by the illegal nationals will also be confiscated after the given deadline.
He said action would be taken as per law against any of the Pakistani citizens if he was found involved in any illegal businesses and making properties by the illegal foreign nationals.
The minister said a task force has also been constituted at the interior ministry to launch and monitor these actions.
“Safety and security of the people of Pakistan is the prime responsibility and foremost priority of the government,” Bugti said.
He said DNA testing would also be utilised to detect those who are not Pakistani, but contain the national identity card.
A web portal with a universal number would be launched soon so that the public can also contribute by giving information of those living in Pakistan illegally and illegal activities by them, the interim minister said.
Answering a question, Bugti said out of 24 different attacks in Pakistan this year, “14 were carried out by Afghan nationals”.
More than a thousand arrested in two weeks: Afghan embassy
In a statement on X, the Embassy of Afghanistan in Islamabad said more than a thousand Afghans, including many document holders, have been detained in last two weeks.
“Despite repeated promises of the Pakistani authorities, the arrest and harassment of Afghan refugees by the police in Pakistan continues,” the embassy said.
Return must be voluntary: UNHCR spokesperson
When asked about Pakistan government’s decision to deport illegal immigrants, Qaisar Khan Afridi, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told Turkish news outlet Anadolu that “any refugee return must be voluntary and without any pressure to ensure protection for those seeking safety.”
“We have seen disconcerting press reports about a plan to deport undocumented Afghans and we are seeking clarity from our government partners,” Anadolu further quoted 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 refugee host for decades. This role has been acknowledged globally but more needs to be done to match its generosity,” he went on to say.
Afridi said the UNHCR stands ready to support Pakistan in developing a mechanism to manage and register people in need of international protection on its territory and respond to “particular vulnerabilities,” the Turkish new outlet reported.