Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Sunday reiterated no plans for an extension to the Oct. 31 for illegally residing foreigners to voluntarily leave Pakistan without repercussions, warning the state will commence an operation to expel them from Nov. 1.
On Oct. 3, Bugti told a press conference that the caretaker government was granting all illegal “aliens,” including 1.73 million Afghans, until Oct. 31 to voluntarily leave the country. Any illegals still living in the country after that date, he warned, risked deportation and the confiscation of their properties. To questions, he claimed this measure was aimed at ensuring the security of Pakistanis, noting that of 24 suicide bombings reported in Pakistan this year, 14 had the involvement of Afghan nationals.
On Sunday, Bugti told Geo News 15,000-20,000 illegal foreigners had left Pakistan voluntarily between Thursday and Friday. Separately, a spokesperson for the KP Home and Tribal Affairs Department told APP that between Oct. 1 and Oct. 23, approximately 33,555 undocumented Afghan immigrants had left the country through Khyber district.
According to Bugti, Pakistan has more than 3 million foreign residents, who had either entered the country illegally, overstayed their visas, or lacked proper documentation. Claiming authorities had completed “geo-mapping” to identify pockets of illegal foreigners, he warned that law enforcers would arrest and detain them “wherever they are” after Oct. 31.
“All provincial governments will be part of the operation,” he said, adding committees had been formed on divisional and district levels. The deportation of foreigners from Nov. 1, he said, would proceed in phases, with illegally residing foreigners—people with no travel documents and those who fraudulently presented themselves as Pakistani citizens—deported in the first phase. Afghans, especially those with proof of residence cards and refugees, could be expelled in the second phase, he added.
“Everyone [illegal foreigners] will have to go back,” he said. To a question, he said authorities had devised plans for raids to detain illegal foreigners. “We have established holding centers,” he said, adding detained individuals would be transported to them before being deported to their countries of origin. “Authorities have been directed to treat women, children and the elderly with the utmost respect,” he said.
Lamenting the “ethnic” angle given to the operation, Bugti stressed that the new policy applied to all foreigners and not just Afghans. “We mention Afghanistan as unfortunately most illegal foreigners are from there,” he said.
In his interview with Geo News, the caretaker minister also stressed that the interim government had “no favorites” among the political parties vying for the next government. “It is our [caretaker government] responsibility to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” he said, stressing all instructions of the electoral body regarding transfers and postings of officers and bureaucrats had been fulfilled. “Whatever the ECP’s directions are, we will abide by it,” he added.