Pockets of ‘illegal Afghans’ identified in Sindh

Published October 7, 2023
Army Chief General Asim Munir attends meeting of Provincial Apex Committee of Sindh in Karachi on Thursday. — ISPR
Army Chief General Asim Munir attends meeting of Provincial Apex Committee of Sindh in Karachi on Thursday. — ISPR

KARACHI: A meeting of the Sindh Apex Com­m­ittee, attended by caretaker Chief Minister ret­ired Justice Maqbool Baqar and Chief of Army Staff Gen Syed Asim Munir, was informed on Friday that pockets where illegal Afghan nationals were concentrated in the province had been identified.

The provincial government informed the meeting that an action plan to implement the federal government’s policy on illegal foreigners’ repatriation plan had been shared with the interior ministry.

Well-placed sources told Dawn the provincial government expressed its resolve to overcome any resistance after the meeting was informed about the possibility of resistance from some political parties to the action against illegal immigrants.

They said that provincial, divisional and district implementation committees had already been notified of the interior ministry’s policy.

As many as 3,234 illegal immigrants had been deported since 2021, while 728 Afghans were kept in various penitentiaries. The meeting was further informed that 72,754 Afghans were holders of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards while 67,826 others possessed the Afghan Citizen Card.

According to the sources, the provincial government requested the interior ministry to provide adequate funds to implement the illegal foreigners’ repatriation plan.

They said it also urged the interior ministry to delegate the authority of issuing no-objection certificate (NOC) for bullet-proofing of vehicles to the home department to the extent of Chinese and other nationals working on different projects in the province, as the process of obtaining NOCs from the Centre was time-consuming. The interior ministry, however, responded that it would expedite the process of issuing NOCs.

During the meeting, according to an ISPR release, the army chief was briefed about the revised National Action Plan, operation in katcha areas of Sindh, security of foreign nationals employed on CPEC and non-CPEC private projects, repatriation of illegal foreigners, foreign currency regularisation measures, Karachi Transformation Plan, progress on the SIFC initiatives in the province and Green Sindh initiatives.

The COAS emphasised that law enforcement agencies and government departments would continue enforcement actions against a spectrum of illegal activities with full force to stop pilferage of resources and economic losses that the country suffers due to these activities.

“The COAS underscored the need for synergy among all relevant departments for gainful effects of the landmark initiatives,” it said.

The ISPR release said the participants of the meeting affirmed that state institutions, government departments and people were united for progress and prosperity of the province. Earlier upon his arrival, the COAS was received by Commander Karachi Corps.

Months before the recent ultimatum given by the federal government to all undocumented immigrants, Sindh had witnessed tensions between ethnic groups which culminated in calls from nationalist parties for the expulsion of Afghan refugees.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2023

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