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Illegal immigrants left with less than 24 hours to leave Pakistan

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Authorities say illegal foreigners will be kept at holding centres after deadline expires and will be expelled from country.

  • Illegal immigrants warned to leave voluntarily or face expulsion.
  • Pakistan hosted more than 4m Afghan refugees for last 40 years.
  • Over one million foreigners categorised as illegal, says PM Kakar.

The provincial and federal authorities are set to expel illegal immigrants who are left with less than 24 hours to leave Pakistan as the clock ticked down to the November 1 deadline set for the “aliens”.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Interior had asked illegal immigrants to leave Pakistan voluntarily by October 31 (today) or face deportation.

The government maintained that the decision was not centric to only illegal Afghan nationals that had been staying inside the country but encompassed all those undocumented and illegal foreigners.

Pakistan hosted more than four million Afghan refugees on its soil for the last 40 years under the Geneva Convention, despite the fact that it was not a signatory to that, according to Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar.

A day earlier, he said more than one million foreigners had been categorised as illegal who had been staying in Pakistan without legal and valid documents.

According to sources in the commissionerate for Afghan refugees, illegal Afghan residents continued returning to Afghanistan via Torkham border crossing.

From October 1 to 28, as many as 4,672 families consisting of 67,604 people returned to Afghanistan, they added.

They said all repatriated Afghans were living illegally in Pakistan and added that Afghan families are being allowed to return to the neighbouring country after the fulfilment of legal formalities.

The Taliban government in Afghanistan said some 60,000 Afghans returned between Sept 23 to Oct 22 from Pakistan, which announced on Oct 4 it will expel undocumented migrants that do not leave.

And recent daily returnee figures are three times higher than normal, Taliban refugee ministry spokesperson Abdul Mutaleb Haqqani told Reuters on Oct 26.

Near Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area — home to one of Pakistan’s largest Afghan settlements — a bus service operator named Azizullah said he had laid on extra services to cope with the exodus. Nearby, lines formed before competitor bus services headed to Afghanistan.

“Before I used to run one bus a week, now we have four to five a week,” said Azizullah, who — like all the Afghan migrants Reuters interviewed — spoke on condition that he be identified by only one name due to the sensitivity of the matter.

‘Eviction of illegal residents from Nov 3’

Punjab IG Usman Anwar said he was in contact with the authorities concerned for the repatriation of the illegal immigrants and phase-wise evacuation of illegal immigrants will begin across the province from November 3.

He said the illegal residents would be evacuated from Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Lahore, and other areas of the province.

The illegal residents will be expelled from the province through designated points and they will be kept at “holding centres” before expulsion, the Punjab IG said.

‘Expulsion plan compliant with int’l norms’

Foreign Ministry spokesprson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch stated that the expulsion plan was compliant with international norms and principles.

“Our record of the last forty years in hosting millions of Afghan brothers and sisters speaks for itself.”

Pakistan is home to over 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees, about 1.7 million of whom are undocumented, according to Islamabad.

Afghans make up the largest portion of migrants — many came after the Taliban retook Afghanistan in 2021, but a large number have been present since the 1979 Soviet invasion.

The expulsion threat came after suicide bombings this year which the government said involved Afghans.

Islamabad has also blamed them for smuggling and other terrorist attacks.

Cash-strapped Pakistan, navigating record inflation and a tough International Monetary Fund bailout programme, also said undocumented migrants have drained its resources for decades.

Spike in returns

In early September, an average of 300 people crossed the border into Afghanistan daily, according to international organisations working on migration issues, who provided data on condition that they not be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. After Islamabad announced the November deadline, crossings jumped to roughly 4,000, the organisations said.

These figures are small compared to the number of people to be affected in coming days. The information minister for Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan, told Reuters it is opening three more border crossings.

For weeks, state-run PTV has run a countdown to Nov 1 on the top of its screens.

Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti warned that law enforcement agencies will start removing “illegal immigrants who have … no justification” being in Pakistan after Tuesday.

They will be processed at “holding centers” and then deported, he told reporters, adding that women, children and the elderly would be treated “respectfully.”

Pakistani citizens who help undocumented migrants obtain false identities or employment will face legal action, Bugti warned.

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US envoy urges deeper strengthening of relations with Pakistan

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The significance of strengthening relations with Pakistan was highlighted by US Ambassador Donald Blome on Thursday.

Blome visited the Chaukhandi cemetery in Karachi, based on the information. President Donald Blome and other delegates were cordially welcomed by Sindh Minister of Culture and Tourism Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah on this particular occasion.

Narendra Kumar, Heather Murphy, and Zahra Hajiani were among the delegation members who visited Chaukhandi Graveyard’s historic tombs with the American envoy, Acting Consul General Jimmy Mauldin.

Highlighting the rich historical significance of Chaukhandi graveyard, Minister Zulfiqar Ali Shah shared his ideas with the US ambassador.

Blome highlighted the Chaukhandi tombs for their exquisite craftsmanship and architectural design. He promised to help Pakistani visitors with their visa requirements.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), he promised to promote the nation’s historical sites.

In the meantime, Shah stated, “The Sindh government is taking steps to provide all sorts of facilities to the tourists.”

Pakistan will receive additional assistance from the US to lower methane gas emissions.

The US decided to help Pakistan lower its methane gas emissions earlier this month.

At a USAID Climate Financing event, US Ambassador Blome stated: “We are working very hard to lower methane gas emissions from dairy farming. The Green Climate Fund in Pakistan will be consulted for funding this initiative.”

“As of 2030, there are global efforts to reduce the temperature by 1 degree Celsius. The US-Pakistan Green Alliance is being followed by the collaboration with Pakistan, according to Blome.

“The problems can only be addressed by providing the stakeholders with financial and technical resources,” he continued.

The government’s first aim is to revitalise the cattle industry, according to Federal Secretary Dr. Fakhre Alam. Raising dairy farming’s production capacity will help it overcome its environmental problems.”

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Shehbaz travels to the UAE in order to strengthen trade relations.

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This visit, which is being accompanied by a high-level delegation made up of important ministers such as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal, Information Minister Ataullah Tarar, and advisor Tariq Fatemi, is intended to strengthen bilateral ties and expand cooperation between the two countries.
Prime Minister Sharif will visit President Muhammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi. The high-level gathering will cover Pakistani and UAE bilateral relations, with an emphasis on commerce and investment.

Along with exploring strategic alliances and shared interests that can help their respective nations, they are also expected to concentrate on talking about ways to advance collaboration across a range of industries.

Prime Minister Sharif has talks planned with other Emirati leaders, businesspeople, and heads of financial organisations in addition to his diplomatic engagements. In an effort to promote economic cooperation and draw in investment, he is also scheduled to meet with businessmen and investors from Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

The Shehbaz intends to encourage UAE companies to extend their operations into the Pakistani market by interacting with influential businesspeople and highlighting investment prospects in Pakistan.

These exchanges will offer a forum for talking about doable ways to strengthen business relations and carry out initiatives that will benefit both parties. Pakistan’s determination to enhance its political and economic ties with the United Arab Emirates is demonstrated by the visit.

After ending his day-long journey to Iran to offer condolences for the terrible death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has returned to Pakistan.

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Memon accuses temporary government of ‘delaying’ the BRT Red Line project

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On Thursday, Sindh Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon accused the interim administration of “delaying” the Red Line project of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

Memon stated what he thought, saying, “The BRT Red Line project was mission impossible. However, the project has now begun to be worked on.”

“The reason government is formed is to solve the issues that the people face. “The government is working tirelessly to bring relief to the masses,” he declared.

Memon declared, “It’s also being done about the unlawful bus stands. The passengers will have access to shuttle service from us.”

“A large number of transport projects have already begun. “We aim to ensure that every individual receives a chance to work,” he continued.

Pakistan was ‘started to damage’ by the founder of PTI.

Memon reported on Thursday that a campaign to hurt the nation was started by the founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Memon said at a Karachi event: “Israel discusses the human rights violations in Pakistan. Israel, a party to the Palestinian holocaust, is endorsing the PTI’s founder. Israel has provided election funding to the PTI’s founder.”

“The worst election tampering in 2018 produced the PTI founder’s victory. Police officers, the parliament, and the PTV were all attacked,” he claimed.

“The entire country was closed due to a 126-day protest,” Memon claimed.

The PTI founder was made fun of by Memon, who said, “The PTI founder had always embraced the politics of anarchy.”

Memon stated the following when discussing the state of law and order in Sindh: “The Sindh government is serious about the state of law and order in the province. In terms of keeping Sindh peaceful, everyone is in agreement.”

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