The Foreign Office on Thursday clarified that the federal government’s deadline for the voluntary departure of illegally residing foreigners in Pakistan remains unchanged, and any individuals who remain in the country after Oct. 31 will be subject to law.
“The government’s position is very clear … that the deadline for voluntary return of illegal foreigners to their home countries is Oct. 31 and from Nov. 1, the repatriation plan kicks in as per Pakistani laws,” spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told a weekly briefing. To a question, she confirmed the Interior Ministry had briefed foreign missions on the repatriation plan, adding that all illegal and undocumented foreigners, including individuals who overstayed their visas, would be subject to law from Nov. 1.
“Every country has similar laws to regulate movement of foreign nationals. The repatriation of illegal foreigners is a purely administrative and legal matter and it will be dealt under the prevailing laws of Pakistan,” she said, stressing that any foreigner residing in Pakistan legally would not face any issues.
Maintaining that the government would “thoroughly” implement the plan in a “phased and orderly manner,” Baloch said an “elaborate institutional mechanism” had been developed to address any allegations of harassment and maltreatment during the implementation process. This, she continued, would include helplines at the federal and provincial levels to report incidents, as well as the formation of a high-level coordination committee at the Interior Ministry to oversee the plan’s implementation.
On the ongoing Middle East conflict, the spokesperson said Pakistan remained “deeply concerned” about the situation of Palestinians. “We strongly condemn the Israeli aggression and blockade, particularly the recent attack on a Gaza hospital,” she said, adding these actions violated international humanitarian and human rights law. “Deliberate attack against civilian targets constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. We call for an immediate ceasefire; an end to the siege of Gaza; and the facilitation of humanitarian corridors for unrestricted relief supplies,” she added.
Referring to a ministerial meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Executive Committee in Jeddah, she said it had stressed the core issue underlying the conflict was the failure to implement the two-state solution. During the meeting, she said, interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani had reaffirmed Pakistan’s unwavering support for Palestinian self-determination and advocated for the establishment of a secure, contiguous, and sovereign Palestinian state.
Stressing the joint communiqué adopted after the OIC meeting reflected the unified stance of the Muslim Ummah on the Gaza situation, she said the foreign minister had engaged with all member states to help develop this consensus. “These conversations were centered around an in-depth discussion of the evolving situation in Gaza, with a particular focus on the ongoing humanitarian crisis faced by the Palestinian people due to Israeli aggression and the siege of Gaza,” she said, reaffirming that Pakistan was sending humanitarian assistance for Palestine via a chartered aircraft. The plane, she said, would carry 100 tons of essential medical supplies, tents, and blankets and would reach Egypt via Islamabad. “From Egypt, these items will be transferred to the people of Gaza,” she added.
The spokesperson also stressed that Pakistan believed the situation required the global community to work together to ensure peace prevails, ceasefire attained and humanitarian assistance allowed to go into Gaza. “We are in this context, very disappointed with the results of yesterday’s debate at the United Nations Security Council. We believe that it is the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to call for cessation of hostilities, as maintenance of peace is their prime responsibility under the U.N. Charter,” she added.
During her briefing, Baloch also updated media on interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar’s trip to China for the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. She said the visit was aimed at four key points: participating in the forum; meetings with the Chinese leadership and senior officials; meetings with other participating leaders; and interactions with Chinese entrepreneurs, think tanks and media.
She said the premier had outlined Pakistan’s vision for global connectivity through the Belt and Road Initiative and outlined CPEC’s role in creating economic opportunities and mutually enriching outcomes. He had, she said, signed a number of Memorandums of Understanding/Agreements in areas of connectivity, communication and transport, including ML-1, trade and commerce, food security and research, space cooperation, health, industrial cooperation, and climate change.