In this photo taken on November 12, 2023, Afghan refugees sit on a hilltop outside the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office as they wait for registration upon their arrival from Pakistan near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province. — APF


Illegal foreigners prohibited from funding electoral, political activities; to face forced expulsion if found in violation

In this photo taken on November 12, 2023, Afghan refugees sit on a hilltop outside the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office as they wait for registration upon their arrival from Pakistan near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province. — APF
  • “Illegal” Afghans not allowed to fund electoral, political activities.
  • Violation to result in “forced expulsions”, ministry warns refugees.
  • Pakistanis cautioned against employing illegal foreigners.

In a major development regarding the ongoing expulsion of illegal foreigners living in the country, the Ministry of Interior on Monday announced that Afghan migrants in Pakistan are prohibited from supporting candidates in the upcoming general elections scheduled to be held on February 8 next year.

The announcement comes as the caretaker government, citing security concerns, has initiated a nationwide campaign to expel millions of illegal foreigners, mostly Afghan citizens, living in the country.

The policy decision came after Afghan nationals were found to be involved in crimes, smuggling and 14 suicide bombings out of 24 this year, alleging that the militants use Afghan soil to train fighters and plan attacks inside Pakistan — an accusation denied by Afghanistan’s Taliban-led administration.

Of the more than four million Afghans living in Pakistan, the government estimates 1.7 million are undocumented with many fleeing their war-torn country during its decades of internal conflict since the late 1970s, while the Taliban takeover after the US withdrawal in 2021 led to another exodus.

Despite the government maintaining that its policy doesn’t target Afghans specifically and is aimed to expel “all” illegal aliens regardless of their nationality or ethnicity, various human rights organisations have raised concerns about Islamabad’s policy decision — with the UN stressing on “voluntary” return

Several Pakistani politicos have also moved the country’s Supreme Court seeking the judiciary’s intervention against the caretaker government’s move to deport illegal foreign nationals, including Afghans.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement, has also said that all illegal as well as “legal” Afghans living in Pakistan will be prohibited from funding any political and electoral activities — including providing funds to any candidate — in the upcoming polls.

Those found in violation of the government directive will face “forces expulsions”, the ministry warned.

“Any Afghan citizen involved in such activities will be deported regardless of his or her legal status in Pakistan.”

Furthermore, the ministry has cautioned Pakistani citizens to abstain from “employing illegal aliens or assisting such individuals in obtaining employment”.

Additionally, the government has also asked citizens to report illegal aliens and those employing them to the helpline available on the ministry’s website.

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