Illegal foreign nationals residing in Pakistan have until November 1, 2023, to leave the country, interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said on Tuesday, as part of the government’s crackdown on illegal immigrants.
“We have given the November 1 deadline to our illegal immigrants and illegal citizens who are living in Pakistan with means. Until November 1, they should voluntarily return to their countries,” Bugit said at a press conference in Islamabad that was centered on the apex committee decisions.
A final decision on the eviction of the illegal refugees was expected to be announced today. The apex committee meeting was presided over by caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar. Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir also attended the meeting.
It was decided that the immigrants would have time to sell their assets and return to their country of origin. In case they fail to comply, they would be expelled and their properties confiscated.
Last month, sources told Aaj News that the federal government has decided to send 1.1 million refugees illegally settled in Pakistan back to Afghanistan.
“And if they do not leave until the given deadline, we will deport them with the help of all of our law enforcement agencies and government institutions,” the minister said.
He told reporters that approximately 1.42 million – out of the total 4.4 million Afghan nationals – have proof of registration. Pakistan hosts 0.85 million Afghan citizen card holders and 1.73 million illegal Afghan nationals.
On the same wavelength, Bugti stated that the aforementioned date was also the deadline for passports and visas.
Never in the world happens in the country where people travel without such requirements, he said, adding that Pakistan was the only country where people enter the country without the required documents.
“In order to strengthen it, we have decided that from November 1 onwards, no one will be allowed to not enter our country without a passport or visa. Only passports will be accepted. Before that, from October 10 to October 31, we have E-Tazkira [travel document] for Afghan nationals,” the minister said.
E-Tazkira stands for electronic tazkira which would be computerised. The caretaker government, which would see the country through to an election due in January next year, has decided that paper tazkira would not be accepted after the deadline.
What the govt will do after Nov 1
Bugti went on to add that the government would start an operation from November 1 onwards. A task force – intelligence and law enforcement agencies – has been established in this regard that would do the following job:
- It would confiscate the properties and businesses of illegal immigrants or not part of the tax net
- Whoever Pakistani was involved in doing business with them will be tried under the law.
- An operation against people having fake national identity cards
- Strict action against ‘family tree’ under which foreign nationals are made part of the family in the NADRA database
- DNA tests of those who have Pakistani CNIC but are not national citizens will be conducted
- A web portal – UNA helpline – will be formed. A universal number will be given through which the government would encourage people to inform people about illegal ID cards, illegal immigrants, and illegal practices. The government has also set a cash reward for informers whose identity will be “kept confidential”.
- Joint checkposts will be formed to halt hoarding and smuggling. At least 14 have been formed in Balochistan, 10 in Punjab, and five in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
- Operations against smugglers, pilferers, and thieves will continue
- A counter-narcotics centre will be formed at ANF headquarters
- No one will be allowed to exercise any kind of violence
- Unions that will take law into their hands and block roads will be dealt with an ‘iron-hand’
When asked, Bugti stated that at least 24 suicide bombings have so far occurred in Pakistan this year. “Fourteen out of the 14 were conducted by Afghan nationals,” he said and mentioned the Peshawar mosque blast, Qilla Saifullah attack, and Zhob and Hangu incidents.
He went on to add that the edict of Afghan Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada was not being honoured. He wondered why it was not implemented in letter and spirit.
The minister claimed that cross-border attacks from Afghanistan have occurred in Pakistan and Afghan nationals were involved in them. He added that the government has the evidence and the Foreign Office was taking up the issue with the interim Afghan government.
He called for strengthening the counter-terrorism departments with the available resources.
In response to a query, Bugti described NADRA as “national security and department”. He added that the new NADRA chairman appointment was made after seeing the national security and his competency in the digital space.
“His [new NADRA chairman] coming was important for the national security,” Bugti said.
The minister added that all stakeholders were taken on board for the government’s decision.
“We are bringing our things in order and putting our house in order. So I think it needs encouragement,” said the minister.