Pakistan Says Deportation of Illegal Foreigners is Lawful and Necessary

Pakistan has clarified that its decision to repatriate all illegal foreigners residing in the country is in accordance with its sovereign domestic laws and international norms and principles. The Foreign Office issued a statement on Monday in response to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) statement on the matter.

The OHCHR had expressed alarm over Pakistan’s announcement to deport undocumented foreign nationals remaining in the country after November 1. The UN rights chief had said that many of those facing deportation would be at grave risk of human rights violations if returned to Afghanistan, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and cruel and inhuman treatment. The OHCHR had also urged Pakistan to suspend forcible returns of Afghan nationals and ensure any possible returns are safe, dignified, and voluntary.

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

She also clarified that all foreign nationals legally residing or registered in Pakistan will not be affected by the decision. She said that the government of Pakistan takes its commitments towards protection and safety needs of those in vulnerable situations with utmost seriousness. She cited Pakistan’s record of hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades as an example of its generosity and hospitality.

She urged the international community to scale up collective efforts to address protracted refugee situations through advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority. She said that Pakistan will continue to work with its international partners to this end.

The caretaker government had announced earlier this month that all aliens, including 1.73 million Afghan nationals, had to leave the country by November 1 following a series of terrorist attacks in which Afghan nationals were found to be responsible for 14 of 24 suicide bombings. The government had also established holding centers for the expulsion of aliens and encouraged voluntary return till the deadline.

The decision had sparked criticism from human rights groups, activists, and some Afghan officials, who had called it unacceptable, inhumane, and irresponsible. They had also warned of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, which is already facing security, political, and economic challenges.

According to the UNHCR, there are around 3 million Afghans living in Pakistan, including 1.4 million registered refugees who have proof of registration (POR) cards that grant them legal stay until June 2023. The rest are either undocumented or have other forms of legal status. Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and has been urging for their repatriation and reintegration in their homeland.

Back to top button