With a resolve to maintain law and order across the country, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said on Tuesday that illegal immigrants should leave Pakistan by November 1 or authorities to deport them forcefully after the deadline.
Addressing a press conference following an apex committee meeting on the National Action Plan (NAP), the security czar said that the huddle set November 1 as the deadline for the illegal immigrants to leave the county voluntarily.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar chaired the high-level huddle, attended by top civil and military leadership in Islamabad.
The development came days after a deadly suicide blast in Balochistan’s Mastung, in which over 60 people lost their lives. In most of the recent terror incidents in Pakistan, Afghan nationals or soil was reportedly used.
According to a statistical report released by the independent think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), at least 271 militant attacks took place during the first half of 2023, resulting in the loss of 389 lives and injuring 656 individuals. Terror activities in the country soared by 79% during the period.
Speaking on the occasion, the caretaker interior minister revealed that Afghan nationals were responsible for 14 of the 24 suicide bombings in the country this year.
He warned the illegal immigrants to quit Pakistan by November 1 or face forcible expulsion.
Bugti said some 1.73 million Afghan nationals in Pakistan had no legal documents to stay, adding a total of 4.4 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.
Bugti further said all the state law enforcement agencies will be mobilised to take action against the illegal foreign nationals and they will be deported after the 1st of November.
He also announced that all illegal properties and businesses being run by these illegal nationals will also be seized after the expiry of the deadline.
Action will be taken as per the law of the land against any of the Pakistani citizens if he is also involved in illegal businesses and making huge properties by these illegal foreign nationals, he added.
The caretaker minister said a task force has also been constituted at the Interior Ministry to launch and monitor these actions. "Safety and security of the people of Pakistan is the prime responsibility and foremost priority of the government."
The taskforce will comprise officials of law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies, Bugti said, adding that it would launch a crackdown against the people having illegal Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) and confiscate properties of the aliens.
“The National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) has been directed to ensure cancellation of fake CNICs immediately.”
The interior minister also warned of strict action against those involved in amendments to Nadra’s family tree in order to confirm their nationality,
The government would utilise DNA testing to confirm the nationality of those having suspected CNICs, he added.
In addition to this, a universal helpline number and a web portal would be launched to gather information about the illegal immigrants/CNICs, smuggling and hoarding, the minister said, adding that people can share the information as anonymous informants.
A day earlier, the caretaker government had announced that almost 1.1 million foreigners illegally residing in Pakistan would be expelled due to security concerns.
According to details, the government will evict illegal "aliens" in the first phase along with those who do not renew their visas.
In the second and third phases, those living in Pakistan with Afghan citizenship and possessing proof of residence cards will be deported respectively.
“Illegally resident foreigners pose a serious threat to the security of Pakistan,” said a source privy to the development adding that the plan for eviction of illegally residing Afghan citizens has also been approved as this lot is involved in funding, facilitating and smuggling terrorists whereas 700,000 Afghans have not renewed their proof of residence in Pakistan.
It had been informed that in the first phase, illegal residents will be deported
The Ministry of Interior had prepared a plan in consultation with the stakeholders and the Afghan government.
In the meantime, the ministry had also issued directives to the concerned to compile a record of Afghans living without permits and prepare a transportation plan to bring them to the Afghan border.
Apart from checking the records of all the Afghans residing in the country, officials concerned were directed to quickly deal with the applications filed regarding the registration of Afghans.
— With additional input from Radio Pakistan.