In a move to strengthen its immigration policies, Pakistan has declared a comprehensive crackdown on individuals residing without proper authorization in the country. The move was announced by caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti in a press conference.
— APP 🇵🇰 (@appcsocialmedia) October 3, 2023
As per Wego’s sources, all unregistered foreigners currently residing in Pakistan have been given until 31 October 2023 to voluntarily leave the country. Failure to do so will result in law enforcement agencies deporting them starting on 1 November 2023.
The move, approved by the Apex Committee chaired by Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, comes in the wake of Pakistan’s growing issues with unauthorized immigrants. Bugti stated that currently, Pakistan is the only country that allows immigrants to enter its borders without a visa or passport. This is also set to change after 1 November, as no individual, resident or otherwise, will be allowed to enter the country without a valid passport or visa.
Task force to be established
The Minister further announced that a task force will be established by the Ministry of Interior, whose primary objective will be to identify and confiscate properties belonging to those who have entered Pakistan without proper authorization. Properties jointly held by a Pakistani citizen and an unauthorized immigrant will also be subject to review.
This task force will commence operations on 1 November, immediately after the deadline ends. Additionally, any Pakistanis found aiding unauthorized foreigners will face legal consequences under Pakistani law.
According to sources, a total of 398 individuals have so far been identified who extended their stays beyond their visas. So far, 43 cases have been registered against such individuals in different police stations. Foreigners living in Islamabad have been advised to make sure all their documents are in proper order.
E-Tazkira for Afghan citizens
As stated by Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, currently, there are 1.73 million Afghans who are unregistered and residing in Pakistan without proper authorization. For Afghan residents in Pakistan, the government will be issuing e-tazkira (identity documents) between 10 October and 31 October 2023. These documents will be computerized, after which paper tazkira will not be accepted.
After the specified deadline, passport and visa policies will be applied to them as well.
Crackdown on issuance of fake ID cards
The authorities have also highlighted the discovery of irregularities in the issuance of identity cards, leading to the appointment of an expert military officer as Chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
These fraudulent identification cards have been an issue of national concern since people have been found using these fake ID cards and documents to travel to foreign countries.
As per the reports, NADRA will conduct DNA tests for questionable ID card holders. Moreover, a web portal and a helpline number will be established to encourage the reporting of unlawful activities, such as those residing without proper authorization or in possession of fake identification documents. The identities of individuals who report such incidents will be kept confidential for their safety, and they may also receive a sum of money as a reward.