Pak Police Arrests Over 700 ‘Illegal’ Foreign Nationals in Crackdown on Refugees – News18

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Last Updated: October 05, 2023, 12:20 IST

An Afghan refugee family return to Afghanistan through Pakistan’s border crossing, Torkham, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (AP File Photo)

Pakistan intensifies action against illegal immigrants, detaining over 700 foreign nationals in Islamabad and Quetta following the government’s November 1 deadline

A day after the federal government announced a crackdown on refugees, Pakistani authorities have arrested as many as 700 illegal foreign nationals in Islamabad and Quetta. Illegal immigrants were detained for allegedly living without legal documents, according to the country’s English-language newspaper Dawn.

As many as 1,126 people were interrogated during the operation, of which 503 were allegedly found to be living illegally. The refugees were booked under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act and are currently in prison on judicial remand. Around 623 people were released after presenting the requisite legal documents. More than 200 Afghans allegedly living illegally were arrested in Quetta.

In a post on X, Islamabad Police warned, saying, “If there is someone living illegally near you, report it to the police. Your name will be kept confidential. Harboring or employing an illegal resident is also a punishable offence.”

On Tuesday, Pakistan’s government said that it would expel them starting next month, raising alarm among foreigners without documentation. Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said the crackdown was not aimed at Afghans and would apply to all nationalities, though the vast majority of migrants in the country are Afghans.

This shift in policy comes as ties between the two neighbours continue to deteriorate over rising militancy in Pakistan. Bugti said that any migrants in Pakistan illegally should go back to their countries voluntarily before the end of October to avoid mass arrest and forced deportation. He added the interim government planned to confiscate the property and assets of illegal migrants.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief spokesperson for the Taliban, said Wednesday that Pakistan’s plans are “unacceptable” and that it should reconsider. “Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them,” Mujahid said on X.

Although Pakistani police have routinely been arresting and deporting Afghans who have sneaked into the country without valid documents in recent years, this is the first time that Pakistan has announced such a major crackdown on illegal immigration.

(With agency inputs)

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