Pakistan Sets November 1st Ultimatum for Undocumented Foreign Residents, Sparking Migration CrisisWorld | October 31, 2023, Tuesday // 18:07| views
Pakistan has issued a significant ultimatum, setting November 1, 2023, as the deadline for all undocumented foreigners living in the country to leave or face forced expulsion. This announcement has sent shockwaves through the community of more than 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees residing in Pakistan. A staggering 1.7 million of them are considered undocumented, despite many having spent their entire lives in the country. As the deadline approaches, intensified checks in areas suspected of harboring "foreigners without documents" will commence.
Pakistan's decision, unveiled on October 3, grants a little over four weeks for more than a million individuals to make the difficult choice of returning to Afghanistan. The sudden urgency stems from concerns raised by the government following suicide bombings this year, which they claim involved Afghan nationals, although evidence has not been provided to support these allegations. Islamabad has also accused some Afghan residents of involvement in smuggling, militant attacks, and even minor offenses.
The government has asserted that there is substantial evidence linking Afghan nationals to attacks on both the government and the military, including 14 out of the 24 suicide bombings that occurred this year.
The situation is further complicated by the influx of around 600,000 Afghans into Pakistan since the Taliban's takeover in 2021, who have joined the ranks of those who sought refuge during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent civil conflicts. Interestingly, more than 60,000 Afghans voluntarily returned to their homeland from Pakistan between September 23 and October 22. It is estimated that thousands more may have made the journey last week.
In response to this migration crisis, Islamabad has revealed plans for staged and phased deportations, with a focus on individuals with criminal records. To process these deportees before their return to Afghanistan, authorities have established "detention centers." As of now, details regarding the duration of detention in these centers remain undisclosed.
Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti, part of Pakistan's caretaker government, has reassured that those targeted for deportation will be provided with food and healthcare facilities for a period of two to three days. He emphasized that Pakistan will not deport refugees but only those who are considered completely illegal.
In light of these developments, the United Nations has called upon Pakistan to identify and protect Afghans who may face persecution upon their return to Afghanistan. The approaching deadline on November 1st poses a significant challenge, not only for the affected individuals but also for the nations involved, raising questions about the humanitarian aspects of this migration crisis.
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