Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti Friday warned illegal immigrants in Pakistan to leave the country by the November 1 deportation deadline or the state would show “no compromise” in taking action against them.
The interim government had earlier this month ordered all illegal immigrants, including 1.73 million Afghan nationals, to leave the country or face expulsion after revealing that 14 of 24 suicide bombings in the country this year were carried out by Afghan nationals.
“In the meetings about the expulsion of Afghan refugees, all stakeholders were present. In that meeting, it was decided that a grace period should be given them,” the minister said in a statement, claiming that some people also told authorities that some immigrants wished to return voluntarily.
The interim security czar reiterated that the policy to expel illegal immigrants was not restricted to Afghan nationals, but all those who do not have the required documentation for residing in Pakistan.
“People, no matter which nationality they belong to, will not be troubled if they have a valid visa and other required documentation. We’re just [planning to] expel illegal immigrants,” he added.
Thousands of Afghan nationals have started leaving Pakistan after the government announced the deadline, with some citing economic conditions behind their decision to leave.
The decision to ask illegal immigrants to leave is closely tied to the escalating violence in the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, and the growing tension between the Pakistani government and the Taliban administration in Kabul, according to experts and officials.
The United Nations (UN) has also said that refugees residing in Pakistan should be allowed to exit the country voluntarily and no pressure should be exerted on them.
Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees since the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) data, approximately 1.33 million registered refugees hold Proof of Registration (PoR) cards, and 840,000 possess Afghan citizenship cards.