Pakistan’s Crackdown on Illegal Foreign Residents – Eviction Plan and Security Concerns

Pakistan's Crackdown on Illegal Foreign Residents
Image Courtesy AFP

Pakistan’s Crackdown on Illegal Foreign Residents – Eviction Plan and Security Concerns

After the Mustang bombing, Pakistan’s caretaker government has initiated plans to evict approximately 1.1 million foreigners residing illegally in the country and most of the illegal foreigners are from neighbouring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s caretaker government has officially stated that these individuals have allegedly been involved in funding and facilitating terrorists and engaging in other illicit activities in Pakistan. Pakistan’s caretaker government has laid out a comprehensive plan to evict the illegal residents and in this article we’ll discuss the eviction plan and security implications surrounding the issue.

Eviction Phases Unveiled

The caretaker government has divided the eviction plan into three distinct phases, aimed at tackling the issue of illegal foreign residents.

First Phase – Expulsion of Illegal Residents

In the first phase, the caretaker government is going to focus on deporting illegal residents living in Pakistan, including those who have not renewed their visas. Deporting illegal residents will enable the caretaker government to remove individuals who are residing in Pakistan without proper authorization.

Second Phase – Deportation of Afghan Citizens

The caretaker government will target individuals holding Afghan citizenship who are residing in Pakistan in the second phase. Deportation of Afghan citizens from Pakistan is prompted by the concerns of their involvement in funding, facilitating, and smuggling terrorists as reported by the security agencies of Pakistan. In addition to above, it is also stated that there are approximately 700,000 Afghans who have failed to renew their proof of residence cards.

Third Phase – Removal of Proof of Residence Card Holders

In the last and final phase, the government intend to deport individuals possessing proof of residence cards. This last action aims to ensure that those who may have acquired residence permits illegally are also identified and expelled from the territory of Pakistan in order to minimize the terrorism activities in Pakistan.

Read More: Balochistan Government declares All-Out War on Terrorism

Security Implications

The cross-border terrorism issue has been taken up with Afghan government many a times, and in this regard a source familiar with the government’s decision has emphasized the serious threat that illegally residing foreigners pose to Pakistan’s security. The source also stated that involvement of some individuals in funding and supporting terrorism raises grave concerns, prompting these eviction measures throughout Pakistan.

Caretaker Government’s Comprehensive Approach

In this regard, the Ministry of Interior has collaborated with stakeholders and the Afghan government to develop this eviction plan in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, directives have been issued to compile records of Afghan residents without permits, while transportation plans are being prepared for their return to Afghanistan. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to expedite the registration of Afghan nationals to ensure proper documentation.

Recent Crackdown on Afghan Refugees

These measures by the caretaker government come as part of the government’s broader crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan, cited them as a major source of terrorism in Pakistan. The authorities have cited illegal immigration and rising crime rates as reasons behind this action, emphasizing the need to regulate immigration effectively.

Statistics and Concerns

According to the latest United Nations figures, there are approximately 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, with an additional 880,000 individuals having legal status to remain in the country. However, the recent arrests by the Pakistani security agencies primarily target those without legal status. In September alone, over 700 Afghans were arrested in Karachi, a tenfold increase compared to August, with similar trends seen in other cities of Pakistan. It is although noted that UNHCR has shown its displeasure over the eviction of Afghan nationals from Pakistan.

Challenges and Allegations

Afghan residents have vehemently voiced concerns over the indiscriminate nature of these arrests taking place in every major city of Pakistan. The Afghan residents have alleged that the police have engaged in extortion and have disregarded valid legal documents. Rising anti-Afghan sentiment, coupled with economic challenges in Pakistan, has exacerbated tensions between Islamabad and Kabul’s new Taliban government.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan’s decision to evict illegal foreign residents is a significant step towards addressing security concerns and regulating immigration. This three-phase approach demonstrates a comprehensive strategy to tackle this issue, with a focus on cooperation with relevant stakeholders. However, the crackdown has raised concerns among Afghan refugees, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach respecting human rights and legal processes.

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