Pakistan Defends Move to Expel Illegal Immigrants
Standing by its decision to expel illegal immigrants, the Pakistan Foreign Office said the government is exercising its domestic laws and is compliant with applicable international norms and principles. Pakistan reiterated that it is not targeting Afghan nationals.
Ravina Shamdasani, OHCHR spokesperson, called on the Pakistani government to continue providing protection to those who need and ensure that any future returns are safe, dignified and voluntary. And it should be consistent with international law.
“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.”
60,000 Afghans Have Left Pakistan
At least 60,000 Afghans, as per the UN Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, have left Pakistan since the government issued the deadline. But 78 percent of the returnees have cited fear of arrest for leaving Pakistan.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation confirmed that more than 5,000 Afghan migrants have returned from Pakistan and Iran. It said around 3,591 people have arrived in Afghanistan, forcibly and voluntarily. The Afghan ministry added that 1,585 Afghan migrants returned forcibly through the Spin Boldak border from Pakistan on October 25. This figure includes vulnerable people who require assistance.
It said these people were detained and sent repatriated to Afghanistan due to lack of legal residency documents.
Alarm Over Pakistan Decision
The OHCHR expressed concern. “We are extremely alarmed by Pakistan’s announcement that it plans to deport undocumented foreign nationals remaining in the country after November 1, a measure that will disproportionately impact more than 1.4 million undocumented Afghans who remain in Pakistan.”
Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Pakistan’s FO spokesperson, said the repatriation planned applied 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.
“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.”
Pakistan has called on the international community to scale-up efforts to address protracted refugee situations through advancing durable solutions as a matter of priority.