Due to security concerns, the caretaker government led by Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar announced on Monday its intention to repatriate 1.1 million foreign nationals who are currently residing in Pakistan without legal authorisation.
The government’s plan involves a multi-phase approach. In the initial phase, those individuals who are residing in Pakistan unlawfully, colloquially referred to as “aliens,” will be subject to eviction, as will individuals who fail to renew their visas.
Subsequent phases will target individuals with Afghan citizenship who possess proof of residence cards. The decision to take action against illegally residing Afghan citizens was made due to concerns that this group is linked to activities such as funding, facilitating, and smuggling terrorists. Additionally, a significant number of Afghan nationals have not renewed their proof of residence in Pakistan, further raising security concerns.
A source familiar with the situation emphasised that illegally residing foreigners pose a significant security risk to Pakistan. The Ministry of Interior has collaborated with relevant stakeholders and the Afghan government to formulate a comprehensive plan for implementation.
In parallel, the ministry has issued directives to identify and compile records of Afghans living in Pakistan without proper permits. Plans are being developed to facilitate their transportation back to the Afghan border. Authorities are also expediting the processing of applications related to the registration of Afghan nationals.
Last week, it was reported that the government would soon announce a one-month deadline for all illegal foreign immigrants, including Afghans, to voluntarily leave the country or face legal consequences. Following this deadline, law enforcement agencies will conduct a nationwide crackdown to identify and deport illegal immigrants, the majority of whom are believed to be Afghan nationals.
At the highest level, the government is committed to preventing Pakistan from becoming a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, many of whom are engaged in criminal activities and smuggling operations. Notably, some illegal Afghan immigrants have already been apprehended for engaging in illicit dollar trading, negatively impacting the country’s economy.
Additionally, a considerable number of illegal foreign nationals are involved in various businesses across major cities, including the federal capital. The increase in street crime in Islamabad has been associated with the influx of illegal Afghan nationals.
According to The News, it is estimated that approximately 1.1 million Afghan refugees are residing in Pakistan without legal authorization. Since the return of the Afghan Taliban to Afghanistan in August 2021, around 400,000 Afghans have entered Pakistan illegally, with an additional 700,000 identified as residing in the country without legal permission.