Islamabad, Oct 9 (EFE).- Pakistan has detained hundreds of alleged Afghan illegal migrants in the southern Sindh province ahead of the government’s Nov.1 deadline to leave the country, a provincial minister said on Monday.
“So far, authorities have arrested 1,700 Afghan nationals who were residing illegally in Karachi,” Interior Minister Haris Nawaz told reporters in Karachi.
However, it was unclear why the authorities arrested them before the deadline.
He said the provincial government was preparing a mechanism under which registered immigrants would not face expulsion.
“All illegal immigrants living in Sindh would be deported,” he said, adding they would be sent back home in buses through the Chaman border crossing in Balochistan.
The development comes a week after the government gave ultimatum to all unregistered immigrants, including an estimated 1.73 million Afghan nationals, to leave Pakistan by Oct.31 or face an expulsion.
An estimated 4.4 million registered and unregistered Afghans have been living in Pakistan since they fled their country after the then-Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
Last week, the Pakistan government issued a Nov.1 deadline, asking illegal immigrants to leave after a surge in militant attacks, largely blamed on Afghan militants.
Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said that beginning Nov.1, the law enforcement agencies would start the deportation of illegal immigrants.
He alleged that Afghan soil was being used against Pakistan, with the militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan taking shelter in the neighboring country.
The minister alleged that Afghan nationals carried out 14 of 24 recent suicide bombings in Pakistan.
The move drew criticism from national and international observers, demanding the Pakistani government to reverse its decision.
“Amnesty International urges the government of Pakistan to continue its historic support for Afghan refugees by enabling them to live with dignity and free from the fear of deportation to Afghanistan where they face persecution by the Taliban,” the rights group said in a press statement last week. EFE