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Pakistan to Launch Crackdown on Illegal Afghan Refugees from November 1

Pakistan has announced that it will launch a “special operation” against the illegal Afghan refugees residing in the country from November 1, as the deadline for their voluntary repatriation expires on October 31.

The decision was taken by the civilian and military leadership in the apex committee, which oversees the national security and counter-terrorism matters. The Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that all illegal Afghans must leave Pakistan by the end of this month or face legal action.

She said that Pakistan’s laws regarding illegal residents are very clear and violators will be fined and deported. She added that the case of registered refugees is different and will be decided later.

She also said that the caretaker foreign minister’s meeting with his Afghan counterpart in Tibet was positive and they discussed the bilateral relations and the regional situation.

Meanwhile, the KP home department has convened an important meeting next week to review the geo-tagging process of Afghan residents in the province, which hosts the largest number of illegal Afghans. The meeting will be attended by representatives of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The home department said that special instructions will be issued to the institutions for a possible operation from November 1 and facilitation will be provided to those who voluntarily return to their countries.

The UNHCR has issued a non-return advisory for Afghans outside of their home country following the Taliban takeover. According to the UNHCR, there are more than 3.7 million Afghans in Pakistan, who fled Afghanistan for both economic and political reasons. Only 1.4 million of them are formally registered.

Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees since 1979 when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan triggered a mass exodus. Pakistan has repeatedly extended the stay of registered refugees over the years, but has also faced security and economic challenges due to their presence.

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