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Pakistan’s Foreign Office has responded to the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) call by pointing out the fact that the government’s decision of setting a deadline for illegal immigrants to leave Pakistan by October 2023 is based on domestic laws.

Moreover, this step is “compliant with applicable international norms and principles.”

The OHCHR had expressed strong reservations over the decision, warning of a “human rights catastrophe”.

The UN’s body, in my view, has failed to appreciate the fact that the government’s decision is not aimed at against any particular ethnic group or nationality. All the foreigners from various countries residing in Pakistan illegally are required to leave the country by today.

Needless to say, Pakistan has paid a huge price for hosting a very large number of illegal foreigners on its soil, many of whom have been found to have facilitated terrorists to carry out deaths and destruction at will across Pakistan.

The State of Pakistan ought to have taken this decision with the emergence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and many other terrorist organizations of different hues.

The current rulers of Kabul, Taliban 2.0., have clearly added to Pakistan’s internal security woes by providing shelter and sustenance to TTP.

In other words, the interim government of Taliban, which came to power following the US-led NATO forces’ exit from the landlocked country more than two years ago, has been pursuing a policy that is clearly aimed at hurting or undermining Pakistan’s security and geostrategic interests. Criticizing Pakistan’s decision, the Afghan government is insisting that the Afghan refugees are not causing security problems in Pakistan.

Little do, however, they appreciate the fact that only undocumented immigrants, including the Afghan people, have been asked to leave the country.

Proof of Registration Card is an identity document for the Afghan refugees that enables them to legally reside in any part of Pakistan.

A very large number of Afghan refugees possess this document. They are, therefore, not among those foreigners who have been living in Pakistan illegally. So the Afghan government’s criticism, in my view, is entirely meritless.

Haroon Rashid Achakzai (Quetta)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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