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Pakistan Sets Deadline for Illegal Immigrants Nov 1 Ultimatum

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Pakistan has announced a strict deadline for illegal immigrants residing within its borders. Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti addressed the media in Islamabad on Tuesday, revealing that all unauthorized individuals in the country must leave Pakistan by November 1st. Failure to comply will result in the deportation of these individuals by law enforcement agencies. This decision comes after a meeting of the apex committee on the National Action Plan, emphasizing the government’s commitment to the welfare and security of its citizens over any foreign policy.

The deadline for illegal immigrants to voluntarily depart from Pakistan was set on November 1st, as announced by Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti during a press conference held on Tuesday. Bugti outlined that this decision stems from the government’s prioritization of the welfare and security of Pakistani citizens. He stressed that those who had entered the country through illegal means would be required to leave or face deportation by the state’s law enforcement agencies.

Bugti made it clear that all relevant stakeholders were consulted before reaching this decision, demonstrating a commitment to transparency and collaboration in addressing this issue. Interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi echoed the urgency by stating that illegal immigrants now had a mere 28 days to exit Pakistan.

Furthermore, the Interior Minister emphasized that after November 1st, entry into Pakistan without a valid passport or visa would not be permitted. This move aligns Pakistan with international standards, as entry without proper documentation is not allowed in most countries around the world.

Highlighting the extent of the issue, Bugti revealed that there are currently approximately 1.73 million unregistered illegal Afghan residents in Pakistan. To streamline the process, the government will accept electronic Afghan identity cards (e-tazkiras) from October 10th to 31st. Following this, the passport and visa policy will be rigorously enforced.

A task force, already established within the Interior Ministry, will commence operations on November 1st to target illegal properties and businesses linked to illegal immigrants or operating in collaboration with Pakistani nationals. These assets will be seized, and Pakistanis involved in facilitating such activities will be prosecuted according to the law.

The task force will also take action against individuals holding illegal identity cards and passports, as these documents are often misused for illicit purposes. DNA testing will be utilized to identify individuals falsely claiming Pakistani identity.

To encourage public participation in the crackdown on illegal activities, the government is launching a universal helpline number and a web portal for anonymous informants to report cases of illegal identity cards, illegal immigrants, and other unlawful practices, including smuggling and hoarding. Rewards will be offered under this informant scheme to incentivize reporting.

Bugti also mentioned the establishment of joint checkposts to combat smuggling and hoarding, along with intensified efforts to address illicit money transfers, power theft, and narcotics-related issues. The government is determined to maintain a monopoly on violence and ensure that no other entity, whether driven by political violence, militancy, ethnicity, religion, or any other pretext, exercises it.

This development comes in response to the caretaker government’s decision to evict 1.1 million foreigners residing illegally in Pakistan. Authorities have cited their involvement in funding and facilitating terrorism and other illegal activities as the primary reason for this crackdown.

The government’s actions have primarily targeted Afghan refugees, with September witnessing a significant increase in the detention of Afghan refugees. The crackdown has been attributed to rising crime rates and poor regulation of immigration, which is straining resources.

While Pakistan hosts around 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees and an additional 880,000 with legal status, the recent arrests have focused on those lacking legal status, with the aim of addressing security concerns.

Notably, the interior minister disclosed that there have been 24 suicide attacks in Pakistan since January, with 14 of them carried out by Afghan nationals. He expressed hope for the implementation of a religious decree by Afghan Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, urging Taliban members to refrain from carrying out attacks abroad. Pakistan has evidence linking Afghan nationals to attacks in the country, and the Foreign Office is actively engaging with Afghan authorities on this matter.

Bugti stressed the need to strengthen counter-terrorism departments and affirmed Pakistan’s capacity to combat terrorism and lawlessness effectively.

In addition to these developments, Lieutenant General Munir Afsar has been appointed as the new chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). This appointment is viewed as critical for national security, given NADRA’s role in managing vital data. General Afsar’s extensive experience in information technology and the digital space is expected to contribute to improving NADRA’s operations and identifying and penalizing those involved in illicit activities.

Pakistan’s announcement of a November 1st deadline for illegal immigrants underscores the government’s commitment to prioritize the welfare and security of its citizens. This decisive action reflects international standards while addressing the challenges posed by illegal immigration and associated unlawful activities.

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