A refugee family return to Afghanistan through Torkham. File / Associated Press
Tariq Butt /Agencies
Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti on Tuesday announced a Nov.1 deadline for illegal immigrants in Pakistan to leave the country otherwise they will be deported by the law enforcement agencies (LEAs).
Giving details of the decisions taken during a meeting of the National Apex Committee to the media, he said that the most important thing that was decided was that the welfare and security of a Pakistani are most important for us over any country or its policy.
The first decision taken is about immigrants who are living in Pakistan through illegal means, he said.
“We have given them a deadline of Nov.1 to willingly return to their countries and if they don’t, all LEAs of the state and provinces will deport them.”
Separately, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said illegal immigrants now had 28 days to leave Pakistan.
Bugti said the same deadline would apply for entry into Pakistan without a passport or visa, adding that people would not be able to enter the country without those documents after Nov.1.
He said that entry without these documents was not allowed in any other country of the world.
The interior minister added that e-tazkiras (electronic Afghan identity cards) would be accepted from Oct.10-31 and afterwards the passport and visa policy would apply.
Furthermore, he said Nov.1 onwards an operation would kick off, by a task force already created in the interior ministry, that would target illegal properties and businesses owned by illegal immigrants or that were being run in collaboration with Pakistan.
“Our intelligence agencies and LEAs will find them and the authorities will seize those properties and businesses. The Pakistanis involved in this facilitation will be sentenced as per the law.”
He added that the task force would also initiate proceedings to crack down on illegal identity cards and passports since they were used for nefarious means.
Bugti said DNA testing would also be utilised to detect such people who were Pakistani identity card holders despite not being Pakistani.
He said a universal helpline number and a web portal were also being launched for people to come forward as anonymous informants to give information about illegal ID cards, illegal immigrants and other illegal practices such as smuggling and hoarding.
The interior minister added that reward money would be set as well under the informant scheme.
Bugti also talked about the establishment of joint checkposts to curb smuggling and hoarding, adding that crackdowns on illicit money transfers and power theft would also be ramped up.
Similarly, he said strict measures were also going to be taken against narcotics.
The interior minister said the monopoly of use of force belonged to the state and it would allow no other entity to exercise it whether it was done so under political violence, militancy, ethnicity, religion or under any other garb.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Asim Munir expressed his resolve to go to any extent to establish writ of state in the country.
The army chief expressed these views during the meeting of the apex committee chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar in the federal capital.
He called the gathering “historic” as heads of all federal and provincial law enforcement agencies (LEAs) were present under one roof.
“Probably, it was for the first time that the meeting was attended by all large and small institutions responsible for security in the country,” Munir said.
The army chief said the life of every Pakistani citizen was more valuable than anything else, adding that Pakistan had only one option and “that is we have to rise and stand to the challenges.”
The participants of the meeting reviewed the internal security situation in the country with a view to overcome the challenges durably.
They resolved that despite all odds, the government would ensure implementation of the Constitution and the law as per the public aspirations. In the meeting, it was also highlighted that Islam was a religion of peace and the state would never allow anyone to interpret the religion just to serve own political interests.
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