Interior Minister says plan to expel illegal immigrants has been finalized as deadline approaches

Acting Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti addressing a press conference in Islamabad on October 26, 2023, in a still taken from a video.  - YouTube/GeoNews
Acting Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti addressing a press conference in Islamabad on October 26, 2023, in a still taken from a video. – YouTube/GeoNews
  • There will be no compromise on driving out illegal immigrants: Minister
  • Said that Pakistan is committed to expel all illegal immigrants.
  • Centers set up in various cities to house illegal immigrants: Bugti

Caretaker Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti has reiterated that there will be no compromise on the decision to expel illegal immigrants, adding that a plan in this regard has been finalized as the November 1 deadline approaches.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister said centers have been set up in various cities across the country to house illegal immigrants, while those who leave Pakistan voluntarily will be helped to leave Pakistan.

“It is a challenging task,” Bugti said. He said that Pakistan is committed to expelling all illegal immigrants.

He said illegal immigrants, many of whom have been living in Pakistan for years, would not be allowed to carry more than Rs 50,000 while leaving the country.

The minister warned local residents against harboring illegal immigrants, saying strict action would be taken against them.

Bugti said the authorities have done geo-fencing and collected all the information regarding illegal immigrants.

“We know in which villages and cities illegal immigrants are present,” he said.

Bugti also clarified that the action is only against illegal immigrants and those willing to visit Pakistan with valid visas will be welcomed.

Separately, Balochistan’s acting Home Minister Zubair Jamali also confirmed that the plan for the repatriation of illegal immigrants has been finalized.

“Around 14,000 migrants from Balochistan have returned to their homeland via Chaman [border]” he told the presser.

He said that after the November 1 deadline, strict action will be taken against people living illegally.

“Federal and provincial institutions are together to make the country peaceful,” he said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan declared November 1 as a deadline for all illegal immigrants to leave Pakistan or face deportation and confiscation of properties and businesses.

Bugti warned on 5 October that illegal immigrants were given a deadline of 1 November to leave Pakistan for their countries of origin or face deportation. “Their properties and businesses in Pakistan may be confiscated after the expiry of the deadline,” the minister announced.

He said illegal Afghan nationals were responsible for 14 of the 24 suicide bombings in the country this year and added, “The safety and security of the people of Pakistan is the government’s prime responsibility and top priority.”

He said strict action would be initiated against illegal immigrants, including Afghan nationals, who would be arrested and expelled to their native countries.

He had said that at least 42 lakh Afghan people are living in Pakistan, out of which at least 30 lakh people are living illegally without any legal documents.

The action is not Afghan-specific

After the authorities took strong action, the Foreign Office clarified that the decision to deport illegal residents was not specifically targeted at Afghan refugees, but against all immigrants living in the country illegally without valid visa documents.

Foreign Office spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told a weekly press briefing that the national policy towards Afghan refugees in the country “remains unchanged” and that their safe return is a separate issue.

The spokesperson said the ongoing operation was against individuals who either overstayed their visas or did not have valid documents to stay.

Baloch clarified that this operation has nothing to do with the Afghan refugees whom Pakistan had been sheltering for decades despite its economic constraints.

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