Crackdown underway against illegal immigrants, not Afghan nationals: Bugti

Says operation underway against illegal immigrants residing in Pakistan without any travel documents

ISLAMABAD  -  Caretaker Minister for Interior Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti,informed the Senate on Monday that the government was carrying out a crackdown against all illegal immigrants in the country and not Afghan nationals only.

Winding up discussion on a motion to discuss the Federal Government’s decision to expel the immigrants, including Afghan refugees from Pakistan in a short time, he rejected the notion that the crackdown had been launched against Afghan nationals. The operation was underway against illegal immigrants who had been residing in Pakistan without any travel documents, the minister added. Bugti said no country allowed any foreigner to live, do business, or buy properties without legal documents. “Whether does any country, including Afghanistan, permit Pakistani people to cross their borders without legal documents?” he questioned.

He said that even in Afghanistan, Pakistani businessmen are required to produce guarantors before establishing businesses. He said foreigners with valid visas and legal documents would be welcomed in Pakistan and even allowed to do business. The minister said that the prime minister, during a cabinet meeting, gave a clear policy that no illegal immigrant would be mishandled, and assured that the police would treat Afghan refugees with dignity.

Two to three station house officers (SHOs) had been suspended for their involvement in mishandling cases, he added. Bugti elaborated that the operation against illegal immigrants was being executed strategically, with committees established at divisional and district levels to address the issue. The provincial stakeholders, along with the Afghan consulates, were also taken on board, he added. He said over 300,000 Afghan nationals, including 294,000 voluntarily, had so far returned to their native country. Only 8,000 Afghan were sent back by the Government of Pakistan, he added.

A portal and helpline had been established for complaints, with 86 percent of the 569 received complaints solved, the minister said. He said “holding centers” with essential amenities, had been set up across the country to accommodate illegal immigrants before deporting them to their home nations. The centers were providing food and medical facilities, he said, assuring that women, children, and elderly people would be treated respectfully. The foreigners without legal documents would not be sent to jails, rather kept in the centers and then sent to their respective countries, he reiterated. The minister reaffirmed that the government would not compromise on the expulsion of illegal immigrants from Pakistan.

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