As the deadline loomed for all the undocumented immigrants including 1.7 million Afghan nationals to leave Pakistan, the Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti on October 30. 2023 said that the caretaker government will start expelling these aliens in phases if they do not leave the country voluntarily. The Pakistani government announced October 31, 2023, as a deadline for expelling illegal immigrants.
Declaration by the Minister
Bugti confirmed that over 20,000 illegal foreigners have left Pakistan voluntarily over the last three days, He stated that all the provincial governments would play an active part in the operation against illegal foreigners. The Committees have been formed on all district and divisional levels, “ he added. The interim interior minister further clarified that the expulsion of illegal foreign nationals will be deported in the first phase.
The Illegal immigrants, many of whom have left Pakistan for years will be processed at temporary centres being set up by the government. The government has completed the geo-mapping and will locate the foreign nationals wherever they are,” he said adding that they have established holding centres to keep illegal foreigners after the deadlines is crossed.
Remarks of Pakistani Foreign Ministry
On October 30, 2023, the Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that the repatriation plan applied to all illegal foreigners residing in Pakistan irrespective of their nationality and country of origin.
The spokesperson also added that all foreign nationals legally residing or registered in Pakistan were beyond the purview of this plan. The government of Pakistan takes its commitments towards the protection and safety of those in vulnerable situations with utmost seriousness. Our record of the last forty years in hosting million of our Afghan brothers and sisters speaks for itself.
Baloch also called on the international community to scale up efforts to address protracted refugee situations through advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority. Pakistan will continue to work with our international partners to this end, Baloch said. Earlier the Afghan government also criticized Pakistan for the decision and urged to reconsider it.
History of Afghan Influx
Pakistan has been hosting Afghan Refugees for the past four decades when millions of Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation. The October 31 deadline given to illegal immigrants especially Afghans receive widespread criticism. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) called on the Pakistan government to suspend forcible returns of Afghan nationals before it is too late to avoid a human rights catastrophe.