Pakistan condemns UN refugee agency’s statement on expulsion of illegal foreigners

An Afghan refugee sits near a bus before loading his luggage at the Karachi bus terminal in Sindh province for departure to Afghanistan on October 27, 2023.  - AFP
An Afghan refugee sits near a bus before loading his luggage at the Karachi bus terminal in Sindh province for departure to Afghanistan on October 27, 2023. – AFP
  • The decision to deport illegal aliens is in line with local laws: FO.
  • The spokesperson says that there will be no impact on those living legally.
  • Urged the world to step up efforts to deal with refugee situations.

ISLAMABAD: Responding to the statement of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on repatriation of illegal foreigners, Pakistan on Monday clarified that it is exercising its “sovereign domestic laws” while implementing the plan.

“The Illegal Foreign Repatriation Scheme (IFRP) applies to all illegal foreigners residing in Pakistan, irrespective of their nationality and country of origin. The decision was taken in compliance with Pakistan’s sovereign domestic laws and in line with applicable international norms and principles, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said in a statement.

The spokesperson clarified that all foreign nationals legally resident or registered in Pakistan will not be affected by the decision.

“The Government of Pakistan takes its commitments to the safety and needs of people in vulnerable situations extremely seriously. Our record over the last forty years of hosting millions of our Afghan brothers and sisters speaks for itself, Baloch said.

Islamabad urged the international community to “increase collective efforts to address refugee situations by pursuing sustainable solutions on priority basis”.

“Pakistan will continue to work with our international partners towards this end,” Baloch said.

The caretaker government, earlier this month, had directed all “aliens”, including 1.73 million Afghan nationals, to leave the country after a series of terrorist attacks in which Afghan civilians were found responsible for 14 out of 24 suicide bombings. Was.

Last week, the UN refugee agency, OHCHR, had expressed concern over Pakistan’s announcement to deport undocumented foreign nationals remaining in the country after November 1.

A spokesperson for the UN rights chief said, “We believe that many facing deportation will be at serious risk of human rights violations if returned to Afghanistan, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, cruel and other Inhumane treatment is involved.”

The spokesperson also called on Pakistan to withdraw its November 1 deadline and suspend the alleged forced return of Afghan nationals.

‘Holding Center’ established for expulsion of aliens

Meanwhile, on the issue of repatriation of illegal foreigners, acting Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti on Sunday said the government is encouraging “voluntary return” of foreigners till the November 1 deadline, after which the state will begin its drive to expel them. will start.

The federal minister also said that between Thursday and Friday, 15,000 to 20,000 illegal foreigners left Pakistan voluntarily.

Expressing his views on the total number of foreigners in the country, Bugti highlighted that there are more than 3 million such persons living in Pakistan, including illegal foreigners, those with Proof of Registration (POR) and refugees.

“All provincial governments will be part of the operation […] Responding to a question regarding deportation of illegal foreigners, he said, “Committees have been formed at divisional and district levels.”

“Geo-mapping work has been completed [to locate illegal foreigners], The government will target aliens, no matter where they are.”

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