Afghan people wait to cross the border into Afghanistan, as they voluntarily depart for their homeland, with the support of the UNHCR, following Pakistan's order for all illegal migrants to leave the country at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chaman, Pakistan, 17 October 2023. EFE/EPA/FILE/AKHTER GULFAM

Pakistan says illegal foreigners’ repatriation plan as per domestic laws

Islamabad, Oct 30 (EFE).- Pakistan on Monday defended its plan to repatriate foreigners living illegally in the country, saying it was in line with its domestic laws.

Responding to an earlier statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs said that the Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan (IFRP) applied to all illegal foreigners not only to Afghan nationals.

On Friday, the UNHCR had said that it was “extremely alarmed” by Pakistan’s announcement to deport undocumented foreign nationals after the Nov. 1 deadline.

The rights body said that there were more than two million undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan, at least 600,000 of whom left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

“We believe many of those facing deportation will be at grave risk of human rights violations if returned to Afghanistan, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, cruel and other inhuman treatment,” UNHCR underlined.

In response, the Pakistani ministry said that the IFRP plan was applicable to all the undocumented foreigners living in the country irrespective of their nationality and country of origin.

“The decision is in exercise of Pakistan’s sovereign domestic laws, and compliant with applicable international norms and principles,” foreign ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch said in a statement.

The statement clarified that all foreign nationals legally residing or registered in Pakistan were beyond the purview of the plan.

Baloch further said that the government took its commitments towards protection and safety of those in vulnerable situations with utmost seriousness.

“The international community must scale up collective efforts to address protracted refugee situations through advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority,” said the spokesperson.

On Oct. 3, Pakistan ordered all illegally residing foreigners to leave the country by the end of the month or face arrest and deportation.

According to the UNHCR, a sharp increase in people returning to Afghanistan was recorded since the deadline was announced.

It disclosed that the number of Afghans who left Pakistan until mid-October stood at 59,780, of whom 78 percent cited fear of arrest as the reason for their departure. EFE