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Pakistan sticks to eviction of illegal immigrants despite pressure


Pakistan will not show any flexibility in its decision to deport all foreigners living in the country illegally despite pressure being exerted by certain countries to review the move.

“We are sticking to our decision. There will not be any flexibility. All foreigners living in the country illegally will have to adhere to the October 31 deadline,” a senior government official while requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune here on Wednesday.

Pakistan has decided to evict an estimated 1.7 million foreigners mostly Afghans residing in the country illegally. They have been given an October 31 deadline to leave or face deportation.

Officials said that certain countries after Pakistan’s move approached the government seeking review of the decision. In order to allay their concerns, the government gave foreign diplomatic missions detailed briefing about the plan.

According to officials, envoys were assured that the crackdown was only against those who had been living in the country illegally. They were told that no action would be taken against the people having refugee status or had valid documents.

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The US and certain European countries were worried that Pakistan’s policy might lead to eviction of thousands of Afghans, who had been working for the US and its allies and currently had been living in Pakistan.

Several thousands of such Afghans have been waiting for the visas to immigrate either to the US or European countries.

Pakistan has assured the US and other European countries that those Afghans would not be touched. However, the government has asked such countries to expedite their visa process.

The crackdown against illegal immigrants has become a subject of debate in the country and outside. During the recent world cup match between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Afghan opener dedicated his man of the match award to Afghans being deported from Pakistan.

Ibrahim Zadran’s comments ignited debate with many Pakistanis reminding him that the crackdown was only against those who were living in the country illegally. People also drew attention towards Pakistan’s generosity in hosting millions of Afghans for decades.

Despite criticism and opposition by certain countries and international organisations, Pakistani officials were adamant that the government would not reverse its policy.