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Punjab caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir revealed on Friday that provincial government had identified approximately 33,000 people through mapping as illegal residents lacking proper legal documentation and were set to be deported.

The provincial minister’s statement comes days before the government’s approaching October 31 deadline for illegal residents to depart from Pakistan.

The caretaker government has asked undocumented foreign nationals to leave Pakistan by November 1 otherwise law enforcement agencies will take action as per law.

Around 1.3 million Afghans are registered refugees and 880,000 more have legal status to remain in Pakistan, according to the latest United Nations figures.

“As many as 99,000 illegal foreign residents have been detained in Pakistan and 33,000 of them were found to be completely lacking any documents and staying illegally in Pakistan after their identification through mapping,” Mir said while addressing a press conference in Lahore, adding that they would be deported.

The provincial information minister said the above figure would continue to increase as mapping was carried out on a daily basis.

He explained that the federal government had asked the Punjab government to deport all illegal foreign residents by Saturday. “Other provinces have also been assigned different days for the purpose,” he said.

Mir said the identified illegal residents were currently being held in designated holding areas with 36 points within Punjab. “Efforts are in progress to ascertain which of these individuals will be repatriated from which particular border areas,” he added.

The Punjab information minister took care to stress that only illegal residents would be deported and action was not being taken against “any particular community”.

The minister underscored that individuals with proof of registration will not be subjected to any action during this phase.

“Pakistan has consistently extended respectful hospitality to migrants, and this tradition will persist. However, around the world, when a person enters any country illegally, they are typically deported, which is not an uncommon practice. Likewise, individuals with improper documentation will also be subject to deportation here.”

The minister further said that law enforcement agencies had pinpointed several individuals residing in the country with fake Pakistani documents, and steps were taken against them. “These individuals avail themselves of all the benefits and services but do not contribute through taxes and many of them are involved in illegal actions.”

Radio Pakistan reported last week that the government had repatriated over 59,000 illegal refugees back to Afghanistan.

“A total of 59,561 Afghan refugees have so far been repatriated, and the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees has made appropriate arrangements to facilitate the repatriation of Afghans,” the state-run broadcaster had said.

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Ash Chak Oct 28, 2023 05:58am
Bad move. This will only antagonize the Taliban even more. Not less.
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