Islamabad, 30 October, 2023(GNP): In response to concerns raised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding the deportation of undocumented foreign nationals, Pakistan’s Foreign Office asserted that its decision to expel undocumented foreign national is in adherence to its domestic laws and international norms and principles
The OHCHR had issued a statement from Geneva on Friday urging the Pakistani government to halt the forcible return of Afghan nationals, citing concerns over potential human rights violations if they are returned to Afghanistan.
However, Pakistan reiterated its commitment to expel undocumented foreign nationals following the 1st November. Foreign Office clarified that expulsion plan does not targeting any ethnic group but applied to illegal migrants.
The Foreign Office spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, stressed that foreign nationals who are legally registered in Pakistan fall outside the scope of this deportation plan. Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for the past four decades, demonstrating its commitment to protecting and ensuring the safety of those in vulnerable situations.
Furthermore, Pakistan calls upon the international community to increase efforts in addressing protracted refugee situations by advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority. Pakistan remains dedicated to working with international partners to achieve this goal.
Background: Deadline and Repatriation Plan
Earlier this month, the Pakistani government issued an ultimatum to all undocumented immigrants, including Afghan nationals, to leave the country by October 31, 2023. Failure to comply could result in imprisonment and deportation to their respective countries. This decision, made in an apex committee meeting, was part of Pakistan’s efforts to manage its undocumented immigrant population.
The committee also established measures for border crossings, requiring passports and visas, while Afghan electronic identity cards (e-tazkiras) would only be accepted until October 31, 2023.
Foreign nationals without identity documents will be housed in detention centers, or “holding centers,” established across the country, ensuring the respectful treatment of immigrants, especially women, children, and the elderly. These centers will provide meals and medical facilities. Following November 1, 2023, there will be no compromises on the expulsion of illegal immigrants.
The repatriation process will occur in phases, starting with individuals lacking valid travel documents. They will be allowed to carry a specified amount of local currency, and funds exceeding this limit must be transferred through established banking channels.