Pakistan wants undocumented migrants to leave by November 1 or get deported

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People get their papers checked as they use the main crossing on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Torkham, Pakistan [File: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters]

Government’s planned crackdown makes the future of an estimated 1.7 million Afghans in Pakistan uncertain.

Pakistan has ordered all undocumented immigrants, mainly nearly 1.73 million Afghan nationals, to voluntarily leave the country or face deportations.

“We have given them a November 1 deadline,” Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said on Tuesday amid claims by Islamabad that 14 of 24 suicide bombings in the country this year were carried out by Afghan nationals.

Bugti said an estimated 1.73 million Afghan nationals in Pakistan have no legal documents to stay, adding that a total of 4.4 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan.

“There are no two opinions that we are attacked from within Afghanistan and Afghan nationals are involved in attacks on us,” he said. “We have evidence.”

Islamabad has received the largest influx of Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of their country in 1979. About 1.3 million Afghans are registered refugees in Pakistan and 880,000 more have legal status to remain, according to the latest United Nations figures.

“If they do not go, … then all the law enforcement agencies in the provinces or federal government will be utilised to deport them,” Bugti said.

It was not immediately clear how Pakistani authorities could ensure the undocumented immigrants leave or how they could find them to expel them.

Pakistan’s announcement, called “harassment” by the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, marked a new low in its relations with Kabul, which have deteriorated since border clashes between the South Asian neighbours last month.

In a statement on X, the embassy said more than 1,000 Afghans have been detained in the past two weeks – half of them despite having a legal right to be in Pakistan.

In a statement on X, the embassy said more than 1,000 Afghans have been detained in the past two weeks – half of them despite having a legal right to be in Pakistan.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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