ISLAMABAD: Out of 1126 foreign nationals detained by the police during an ongoing drive against undocumented immigrants, more than 600 people were able to produce their valid documents, after which the police officials allowed them to go home.

A statement issued by the Islamabad police also asked the public not to link undocumented foreign nationals with criminal activities.

“Those who produced their legal documents were released,” the police said, adding that at least 503 immigrants failed to produce the documents and were sent on judicial remand.

The police said that the foreigners were taken into custody during separate operations in residential areas of the capital as well as informal settlements across the city.

The police officials asked them to show their documents, including visas, but 503 people failed to produce documentation and were subsequently detained, said the statement.

Police also registered cases against them at different police stations under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, the statement said, adding that so far at least 67 cases have been registered at different police stations, including Sabzi Mandi and Bhara Kahu, against ‘illegal immigrants’. The police said further legal action, including deportation, would be taken in light of court orders.

During an operation by the Sanzi Mandi police, 33 “illegal immigrants” residing in different areas were arrested, and a case was registered against them.

The Barakahu police on Wednesday also arrested five “illegal immigrants” from Simly Dam Road and registered a case against them, the police said, adding that the Koral police arrested four “illegal immigrants” from Ghouri Town and registered a case against them on Wednesday.

Giving details about operations, the police said the activity went smoothly and no unpleasant incident was reported. Police also requested the public not to link refugees residing in the country with criminal elements. According to the police, the operations were conducted based on tip-offs as well as during random checking.

“A targeted operation in commercial areas, like Sabzi Mandi, was conducted in response to the information about the presence of foreigners there,” they said, adding that during the operations, the foreigners were asked to produce identity documents and upon failure, they were taken into custody.

On Tuesday, the federal government gave an ultimatum to all undocumented immigrants, including Afghan nationals, to leave Pakistan by October 31, or risk imprisonment and deportation to their respective countries.

The government decided to take strict action against the businesses and properties owned by “illegal immigrants”, while a taskforce was also constituted to scrutinise “fake identity cards illegally issued to foreign nationals as well as their businesses and properties”.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2023

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