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Pakistan to Expel Registered Refugees after Deporting Illegal Migrants

Interim Balochistan information minister claims it is ‘fact’ that Afghan soil is being used against Pakistan, adding crackdown on illegal foreigners will continue

by Staff Report

File photo of Jan Achakzai

Caretaker Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai on Thursday announced the government plans to repatriate registered refugees after completing the deportation of undocumented migrants, adding Islamabad similarly expects Kabul to deport any Pakistanis residing illegally on its soil.

“Thus far 80,000 migrants [based in] Balochistan have left Pakistan,” he told a press conference in Karachi. “After this, [we] will send back registered refugees as well,” he said, stressing any foreigners wishing to reside in Pakistan must possess valid documentation. “We expect Afghanistan to do the same and send back the Pakistanis living there illegally,” he added.

“We have not taken any responsibility for illegal residents. The crackdown on the illegal migrants will continue,” he said, adding hundreds of thousands of illegal foreigners had fake Pakistani identification cards. He alleged that 100,000 fake identity cards were blocked from two regions of Balochistan alone, while 20,000 fake CNICs were blocked in Sindh. He added that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) was working to block more.

He also warned the interim Afghan government against giving harsh statements about Pakistan’s policy. “Pakistan knows how to crush all kinds of terrorism,” he said, while acknowledging that ties between the neighboring states had declined. However, he added, this had come as Pakistan buried bodies of its citizens martyred at the hands of terrorists.

Referring to an intelligence-based operation in the Sambaza area of Balochistan’s Zhob district on Oct. 31, he alleged all six terrorists slain by security forces had been Afghans. Citing a press conference of interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar from earlier this week, he reaffirmed that since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, there had been a 500 percent rise in suicide bombings in Pakistan and a 60 percent rise in terrorist incidents overall.

Describing the proliferation of American arms in Afghanistan’s black market as a “national security threat,” he reiterated claims that such weaponry was used in the militant attack on the PAF base in Mianwali last week.

Further echoing Kakar in slamming the Afghan government, Achakzai said that all terrorist sanctuaries and training centers were operating under Kabul’s watch. “It is a fact that Afghan soil is being used against us,” he asserted.

Emphasizing that Pakistan has the right to assert its sovereign right in ensuring all foreigners had proper documentation, he said Islamabad was under no compulsion to seek consent from any country before deporting its undocumented citizens. “It is our sovereign decision that Pakistan has taken as a state,” he said, adding this policy would continue under whichever new government forms after the upcoming general elections.

To a question, Achakzai said the Afghan government has no “Plan B” to address Pakistan’s concerns, so it is their problem how they choose to deal with the deportation drive.

Calls for restraint

Also on Thursday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman told a press conference that while all Afghans must ultimately return to their homeland, the incumbent government was “mishandling” the situation. “There should be a bilateral commission to discuss and resolve the issue between both countries,” he said, adding Kabul should have been brought onboard before initiating the deportation drive.

He also defended the interim Afghan government by stating it had declared cross-border attacks were “not jihad.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the European External Action Service told media that the E.U. was monitoring the deportation drive and was in contact with Islamabad, as well as global aid bodies working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said the repatriation of one million illegal Afghan migrants from Pakistan has raised many questions, particularly over threats posed to certain ethnicities.

“Our general position is that Pakistan’s action is not in line with its commitments towards international laws, particularly in the situation when the Taliban government in Afghanistan is against women’s rights and various ethnic groups,” he said, adding these concerns had been conveyed to Islamabad.

The E.U. statement came as the forcible deportation and voluntary repatriation of Afghans from Pakistan continued for a ninth day after the expiry of the Oct. 31 deadline. According to authorities, 3,035 undocumented immigrants, including 785 men, 747 women, 1,468 children and 35 deportees left Pakistan via the Torkham border crossing on Thursday. Additionally, they said, 3,056 people left for Afghanistan via the Angoor Adda border crossing in South Waziristan.

Thus far, per authorities, 197,652 migrants have left for Afghanistan via borders with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa since Sept. 17, while 1,207 have been deported.

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