FO urged to accelerate transfer of Afghans to third countries

Afghan refugees rest upon arrival from Pakistan at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province on November 2, 2023.  - AFP
Afghan refugees rest upon arrival from Pakistan at the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province on November 2, 2023. – AFP
  • Government will pursue some cases with greater sensitivity: FO.
  • The FO says that the repatriation plan will be implemented in a systematic manner.
  • The government has ordered that individuals should be treated with respect.

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has said it wants an expedited resettlement process of Afghan people waiting to return to third countries without any delay. news Information was given on Friday.

More than 165,000 Afghans have fled Pakistan in a mass exodus after the government ordered deportation of 1.7 million illegal immigrants. The government had given an ultimatum to undocumented foreigners, saying they would face arrest and deportation after November 1.

“We remain in touch with these countries. First, in some cases the lists provided by these countries are under discussion between the two sides. Secondly, it is important that these cases are immediately processed so that they can return to third countries without any delay,” said FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.

Regarding reports that 25,000 Afghans would be sent back to four or five countries, including the United States and Germany, Baloch said the number of countries is about a dozen or perhaps a little less.

“It is important to note that inclusion of a person’s name in these lists does not mean that these countries have agreed to issue a visa to that person. That is why Pakistan is working with these countries to ensure a speedy decision.” is in contact with for their settlement in third countries,” she said.

Baloch also said that the Ministry of External Affairs is aware of the pressures that the caretaker government is under as it is deporting all illegal immigrants.

Civil society members and some political parties have moved the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the policy on repatriation of illegal immigrants, which is now being implemented.

The FO acknowledged that the Government will pursue the cases of certain categories of illegal Afghan migrants, including Afghan journalists, artists, NGOs, and human rights activists, with greater sensitivity.

Responding to various questions during the weekly media briefing, he said: “In implementing this policy, we will take into account some of these concerns that have been highlighted, and we will be sensitive to these concerns.”

He informed that the government has started implementing the scheme and it will be implemented in a systematic and phased manner. “We also know that it will take some time for the policy to be fully implemented,” he said.

Asked about the fate of Bengalis, Biharis or other nationals who came to Pakistan after 1971, the spokesperson said that as per the general guidelines approved by the Cabinet, the scheme will apply to all persons who are here illegally, who do not own any property. Not there. Have refugee status or valid documentation, or have overstayed your visa.

“I do not want to comment on individual cases as all decisions will be taken in the light of these guidelines,” she said.

As criticism continues over the slow return of its citizens from Kabul, the spokesperson said Pakistan has discussed the plan with Afghan officials.

“We have shared with them the details of the plan, the thinking behind the plan, why we are doing this and how we are going to do it. The concerns of the Government of Afghanistan have also been discussed and we have tried to explain to them that this policy is not Afghan-specific; This is not about refugees, this is about people who are here illegally. “We have also announced that those who returned after leaving Afghanistan, especially those who left before November 1, are welcome to apply for a visa so that they can return to Pakistan legally.”

When asked whether the implementation of the scheme could not have been done in a more phased and humane manner, he said that the decision to implement the Repatriation of Illegal Foreigners Scheme was taken by the Government of Pakistan after due consideration and extensive consultation within Pakistan I went. Which includes inputs from various law-enforcement agencies and related departments.

“The repatriation plan is a well-thought-out plan and will be implemented in a phased and systematic manner. Pakistan had also announced a grace period of one month for those persons who were ready to leave Pakistan before October 31. Since its announcement, we have been explaining various aspects of it to the general public as well as our friendly countries, including Afghanistan,” she explained.

In this regard, consultations have been ongoing with Afghanistan and the two Foreign Ministers also discussed this when they met in Tibet a fortnight ago. “Having said this, the implementation of the scheme has now started from November 1st i.e. tomorrow and we will continue to implement it,” he said.

When asked for a list of illegal immigrants from countries other than Afghanistan, the spokeswoman said: “I would not like to list the countries, but there are individuals who are from other countries who have overstayed their visa period. “We are in touch with the embassies of those individuals for their repatriation.”

The Government has issued clear instructions to all levels of law enforcement that all persons being brought back should be treated humanely and respectfully.

“In that regard, helplines have been set up both at the federal level and provincial level to ensure compliance and to facilitate persons who may have any complaints. These are 24/7 helplines, where individuals are encouraged to report if they have witnessed such abuse or have themselves been a victim of such abuse, the spokesperson said.

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