Pakistan rebukes UN refugee agency’s statement on expulsion of illegal foreigners


An Afghan refugee sits beside his belongings before loading them onto a bus at the Karachi bus terminal in Sindh province for his departure to Afghanistan on October 27, 2023. — AFP
  • Decision to repatriate illegal foreigners aligns with local laws: FO.
  • Spokesperson says those residing legally will not be affected.
  • Urges world to scale up efforts to address refugee situations.

ISLAMABAD: In response to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) statement on the repatriation of illegal foreigners, Pakistan on Monday clarified that it is exercising its “sovereign domestic laws” while implementing the plan.

“The Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan (IFRP) applies to all illegal foreigners residing in Pakistan, irrespective of their nationality and country of origin. The decision is in exercise of Pakistan’s sovereign domestic laws, and compliant with applicable international norms and principles,” said Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch in a statement.

The spokesperson clarified that all foreign nationals legally residing or registered in Pakistan will not be affected by the decision.

“The Government of Pakistan takes its commitments towards protection and safety needs of those in vulnerable situations with utmost seriousness. Our record of the last forty years in hosting millions of our Afghan brothers and sisters speaks for itself,” said Baloch.

Islamabad urged the international community to “scale up collective efforts to address protracted refugee situations through advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority”.

“Pakistan will continue to work with our international partners to this end,” said Baloch.

The caretaker government, earlier this month, had directed all “aliens” — including 1.73 million Afghan nationals — to leave the country following a series of terrorist attacks in which Afghan nationals were found to be responsible for 14 of 24 suicide bombings.

Last week, the UN refugee agency, OHCHR, expressed alarm over Pakistan’s announcement to deport undocumented foreign nationals remaining in the country after November 1.

“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,” said a spokesperson for the UN rights chief.

The spokesperson had also called on Pakistan to take back its November 1 deadline and suspend alleged forcible returns of Afghan nationals.

‘Holding centres’ established for expulsion of aliens

Meanwhile, on Sunday on the issue of repatriation of illegal foreigners, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti the said that the government is encouraging the “voluntary return” of aliens till the November 1 deadline after which the state will commence its operation to expel them.

The federal minister also said that 15,000 to 20,000 illegal foreigners left Pakistan voluntarily between Thursday and Friday.

Expressing his views on the total number of foreigners in the country, the Bugti highlighted that there are more than 3 million such individuals residing in Pakistan including illegal aliens, those with proof of registration (POR) and refugees.

“All provincial governments will be part of the operation […] committees have been formed on divisional, district levels,” he said in a response to a question regarding the deportation of illegal foreigners.

“Geo-mapping has been completed [to locate illegal foreigners]. The government will target aliens wherever they are,” he added.



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