Responding to a statement of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Monday reiterated that the Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan (IFRP) applies to all illegally residing foreigners in the country, regardless of their nationality and country of origin.
Last week, in a statement issued from Geneva, the spokesperson for OHCHR had expressed alarm over Pakistan’s Oct. 31 deadline for the voluntary exit of “undocumented” foreign nationals, noting this would “disproportionately impact more than 1.4 million undocumented Afghans” living in the country. “We believe many of those facing deportation will be at grave risk of human rights violations if returned to Afghanistan, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, cruel and other inhuman treatment,” it said, calling on Pakistan to suspend “forcible” returns of Afghan nationals to avoid a “human catastrophe.”
Responding to media queries on the statement, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch stressed that the IFRP was in “exercise of Pakistan’s sovereign domestic laws, and compliant with applicable international norms and principles.”
Highlighting that all foreign nationals “legally residing/registered in Pakistan are beyond the purview of this plan,” she said the Government of Pakistan took its commitments toward the protection and safety of those in vulnerable situations with utmost seriousness. “Our record of the last 40 years in hosting millions of our Afghan brothers and sisters speaks for itself,” she added.
“The international community must scale up collective efforts to address protracted refugee situations through advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority,” Baloch stressed. “Pakistan will continue to work with our international partners to this end,” she added.
With only a day left till the deadline for illegal foreigners expires, interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti has already warned that individuals who remain in the country after this point would first be apprehended and shifted to “holding centers” before being deported to their countries of origin. He further warned that authorities would also confiscate the assets of any person who is arrested.