The Caretaker government of Pakistan has initiated measures against illegal immigrants as the deadline for voluntary departure from the country has expired today (Wednesday).
On October 3, a high-level meeting of the National Action Plan (NAP) chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar set a deadline of October 31 for all foreign nationals residing illegally in the country to leave voluntarily or face deportation.
The Interior Ministry has issued guidelines to the provinces under the Foreign Act 1946 for the repatriation of undocumented foreigners living in Pakistan.
According to the guidelines, illegal immigrants who are under criminal investigation or have been convicted will be sent back to their home countries.
On Tuesday, a total of 21,536 illegal immigrants returned to their countries via the Torkham and Chaman border crossings.
Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti has instructed officials and agencies to treat undocumented immigrants with respect when detaining them in holding centers after the deadline. Speaking to the media, he stated that strict action will be taken against officials found to be involved in mistreatment of immigrants, including Afghans, during their transportation to the holding centers.
Pakistan defends repatriation
The Foreign Office (FO) stated that the decision to deport illegal immigrants residing in Pakistan is in accordance with domestic laws and international principles. The statement was issued in response to the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR), who urged the Pakistani government to “suspend forcible returns of Afghan nationals before it is too late to avoid a human rights catastrophe.”
“We urge them to continue protecting those in need and ensure that any future returns are safe, dignified, voluntary, and fully compliant with international law,” said UNCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani in a statement.