ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is going towards implementation of the “One Document Regime” (ODR) that will make foreign nationals, including Afghans, unable to travel to the country without holding a valid visa.

A senior government official privy to the development said that this has also been made clear to all the countries in touch with the Government of Pakistan with regard to the country’s ongoing repatriation plan of the illegal foreign nationals after the expiry of November 1st, 2023 deadline given to them to voluntarily leave to their respective countries.

The official said that although the illegal foreigners’ repatriation plan applies to all foreigners residing illegally in Pakistan irrespective of their nationality, the country of origin, it is not applied to those Afghans having refugee status, holding Afghan Citizenship Card (ACC), and Proof of Registration (PoR) cards.

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As regards international concerns, he said that this decision is in exercise of Pakistan’s sovereign domestic laws and is compliant with applicable international norms and principles.

The official said that Pakistan despite not being a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention continues to be one of the world’s largest refugee-hosting countries, providing safety to some 1.3 million registered refugees. While there are more than two million undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan, and at least, 600,000 have left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

“We have conveyed to all the concerned countries and also those who are in touch with the government of Pakistan that all the countries are following the ODR regime, and Pakistan is now also going towards this regime,” the official asserted.

In response to a question about those Afghanistan nationals who had worked with the US-led coalition forces during Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan and now will be resettled in any third country abroad, the official said that Pakistan has sought details from the US and other countries about all those Afghan nationals whom they want to resettle abroad, but are currently living in Pakistan.

The United States is set to take about 25,000 Afghan individuals who had worked with them prior to the current Taliban interim regime in Afghanistan.

The US and other Western countries, including the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and some other countries, have sought Pakistan’s cooperation in the cases of these Afghan nationals set to be resettled abroad.

“We have asked the US and other such countries to provide details of such Afghan nationals set to be resettled abroad. If they help, we will cooperate with them,” said the senior official on condition of anonymity.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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