The Foreign Office on Friday reiterated that the interim government’s ongoing drive to expel illegally residing foreigners from Pakistan only applies to undocumented migrants and not those with refugee status.
Addressing a weekly press briefing, spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch noted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had “repeatedly” said the repatriation policy only applied to individuals residing in Pakistan in violation of immigration laws, the visa regime, or improper documentation. “This does not pertain to those with refugee status,” she said in response to a question on a pending petition before the Supreme Court with regards to the deportation of Afghans.
Claiming authorities were “very satisfied” with the number of individuals leaving for Afghanistan voluntarily, she said the number of forced deportations were “very small” in comparison. “This is encouraging for Pakistan because that gives us a hope that these individuals would apply for visas for Pakistan in future and come here through legal means on Afghan passports,” she added.
Maintaining that it was the responsibility of the international community to support the Afghan people and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their country, she noted that Pakistan had also suffered due to instability and war in its neighboring nation. “Pakistan has always called for peace and dialogue and we would advise parties to refrain from military means to resolve the differences and to engage in dialogue for any political differences that they may have,” she said to a question on reports of the Northern Alliance considering a military response to the Afghan Taliban’s government.
On the Afghan Taliban’s refusal to act against TTP fighters based in Afghanistan, she said Islamabad had expressed its “serious concerns” to the neighboring state’s authorities. Pakistan hopes, she said, Afghan authorities would take “immediate action” against such individuals and hand them over.
“Pakistan has always said that we would like to have peaceful and friendly ties with Afghanistan,” she said, stressing Islamabad had “have great sympathies” with our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. However, she noted, Pakistan has serious concerns about the continued presence in Afghanistan of individuals and entities who continue to attack Pakistan and cause loss of life here. “Our position has been clear that there should be effective, meaningful action against these terrorist groups and we should see concrete results of the action that Afghanistan takes against these terrorist groups,” she said, while acknowledging “disappointment” that the kind of results expected from Afghan authorities had not materialized.
“We believe, that the channels of communication should continue and we would continue to impress on Afghan authorities to take effective action against these terrorist groups. We have been given certain assurances with reference to our demands on the Afghan authorities. We now like to see effective action against these groups and substantial results on the ground with respect to any action that has been or is being taken against these terror outfits,” she added.
Referring to demonstrations marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People earlier this week, she said Pakistan reaffirmed its support for “our Palestinian brothers and sisters in this time of great ordeal and trauma.” Expressing disappointment at the resumption of the bombardment of Gaza after a brief pause, she reiterated Pakistan’s call for a “durable and sustained ceasefire to enable supply of extensive and robust humanitarian assistance; urgent medical aid to the injured; and shelter to those who have been displaced as a result of indiscriminate and inhumane bombing campaign by Israeli occupation forces.”
Condemning the Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp and acts of violence and repression against the returning prisoners and their families, she urged the international community to take immediate and decisive steps to bring an end to Israel’s campaign of terror against Palestinian civilians. “Pakistan supports the call for a comprehensive investigation into attacks against medical facilities, schools, mosques, churches, residential buildings and water facilities and urges full accountability for the war crimes being perpetrated in occupied Palestine,” she added.
With reference to the humanitarian assistance dispatched by Pakistan for Palestinians, the spokesperson said Pakistan’s assistance had reached Gaza through the Rafah crossing.