PESHAWAR: An Afghan refugee woman climbs a ladder onto a truck outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees repatriation centre, on Wednesday.—AFP
PESHAWAR: An Afghan refugee woman climbs a ladder onto a truck outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees repatriation centre, on Wednesday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior formed a nine-member joint task force on Wednesday to investigate the issuance of over 12,000 passports to Afghan immigrants.

The joint director general of the Intelligence Bureau is the convener of the task force, which also includes Grade-20 officers of Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence and Federal Investigation Agency, a notification seen by Dawn showed.

Other members include the director general of the interior ministry’s immigration and passports department and Grade-20 officers of Nadra, PTA, FBR and the Ministry of Interior (law). This new team replaces an earlier four-member committee.

The task force will investigate data breaches in the national database, scrutinise unauthorised access, determine the connivance of officials of various institutions and identify potential internal and external connections.

Nine-member team includes members from IB, MI, ISI

It will also fix responsibility and recommend punitive actions, besides proposing a mechanism with a futuristic outlook to safeguard the integrity of the national database for subsequent implementation.

The team’s convener has been authorised to co-opt members from any other organisation required and include any other related aspect he deems appropriate to fulfil the committee’s mandate. The task force is expected to submit a report within 15 days.

No deadline extension for aliens

 Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti talks to reporters on Wednesday. — Photo by author
Interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti talks to reporters on Wednesday. — Photo by author

Meanwhile, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti on Wednesday confirmed that the deadline for illegal immigrants, including Afghans, to leave Pakistan would not be extended beyond Nov 1.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Interior on the government’s drive against illegal immigrants, the minister said the government’s message about action against illegal residents was misconstrued, as the directive targets all illegal immigrants and not just Afghan nationals.

His remarks came amid criticism suggesting a targeted expulsion of Afghan immigrants due to strained relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

During the discussion, former MNA Syed Agha Rafiullah told the lawmakers that thousands of Biharis living in Karachi’s Malir neighbourhood had no legal status in Pakistan. Mr Bugti said he didn’t know about this and invited Mr Rafiullah for consultations to resolve the matter.

Two bills passed

The committee also unanimously passed the bill titled “The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023”, aimed at curbing the rising trend of false accusations and malicious criminal prosecution by increasing the duration of punishment. It also unanimously passed “The Anti-Rape (Investi­gation and Trial) (Amendment) Bill, 2023”, which proposes to make DNA tests mandatory for rape victims.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2023

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