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Pakistan’s caretaker government has announced plans to expel undocumented immigrants, mainly targeting the vast Afghan populace within its borders, beginning Thursday.
Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti revealed in a recent video statement that individuals have “only two days left for a voluntary return,” emphasizing that this operation will be “lengthy and gradual.”
While he refrained from providing a comprehensive timeline, Bugti clarified, “We are not deporting any refugees. Only those who are completely illegal will leave Pakistan.” Pakistan currently shelters over 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees, with approximately 1.7 million of them lacking proper documentation, as per the interior ministry’s records.
This decision comes in the wake of Islamabad’s allegations that Afghan nationals have orchestrated attacks, engaged in smuggling, and committed other crimes within Pakistan’s territory.
Specifically, the state attributes 14 suicide attacks this year to Afghans and claims that militant groups train fighters across the border. Kabul has countered these claims and international rights organizations have implored Pakistan to reevaluate its decision. Nevertheless, Bugti assures that those choosing voluntary departure will receive governmental support at temporary centers, including “food and health facilities for two to three days.”