Afghan refugees wait to get registered for verification, in Karachi, Pakistan, 08 November 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

Pakistan plans to repatriate refugees after deporting undocumented migrants

Islamabad, Nov. 10 (EFE).- Pakistan plans to repatriate registered refugees after completing the process of deporting undocumented migrants from the country, Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said Friday.

Afghan refugees in a bus are brought by security forces from different areas of the city for verification at the national database registration authority (NADRA) field office, in Karachi, Pakistan, 08 November 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/SHAHZAIB AKBER

On Oct. 3, Pakistan ordered all illegal immigrants to leave the country by Nov. 1 or face arrest and expulsion, leading to the mass exodus of foreigners, mostly Afghans, from the country.

As per government records, over 250,000 Afghan refugees have left Pakistan since the ultimatum.

Since the expiry of the deadline, the authorities have launched an operation against undocumented refugees across the country, detaining them at temporary camps for data entry before deportation.

The south Asian nation hosts about 4.4 million Afghans, including 1.7 million undocumented migrants, who fled their country during the Soviet war in the early 1980s.

With regard to the latest announcement of the government, Bugti said that since Afghanistan was now relatively peaceful, all refugees, including registered ones, would have to go back gradually.

“There is no deadline given for the repatriation of registered Afghan refugees, but they all must go at some point,” Bugti told EFE.

Jan Achakzai, a spokesperson for the provincial government of Balochistan in the southwest, told reporters Thursday that immediately after deporting all undocumented foreigners, “we will return registered refugees as well.”

Around 80,000 undocumented foreigners had left Pakistan from the Balochistan province alone, according to the official.

“We are not responsible for providing for illegal foreigners,” Achakzai said, underlining that Afghan leaders should realize their responsibilities rather than escalating the situation with harsh comments on the matter.

He revealed that Pakistan had in turn asked the Taliban government in Afghanistan to hand over Pakistanis living illegally in their country and carrying out attacks against Pakistan.

Pakistan prime minister “Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has cleared that the Afghanistan interim government must hand over Pakistanis illegally living in Afghanistan who are involved in terrorism,” he added.

On Wednesday, Kakar said that there had been an increase in terror incidents in the country since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021.

He further blamed the Afghan government for not taking action for sheltering the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan, or the Pakistani Taliban, and promoting their terror activities on its soil. EFE